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1812 African Elephant skeleton

1812 African Elephant skeleton

C012/2569

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Elephant skeleton engraving in Cuvier's "Ossamens Fossiles" (1812). Cuvier, the master of comparative anatomy, referenced modern species with extinct fossils to reveal their affinities and differences. In this section Cuvier examines the modern elephant with reference to Mastodons (Mammut americanum), late pliocene/pleistocene relatives of the elephants whose fossils are found only in North America. The bones but not teeth resembled those of an elephant, so an elephant and giant hippopotamus were at first invoked to explain the fossils. Cuvier notes the important differences and distinction between the living and fossil species in his work..

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