Why are elephants so small?

African elephants.  Image from the African Elephant Fund

African elephants. Image from the African Elephant Fund

For 165 million years dinosaurs ruled the Earth.  As we all know, dinosaurs were pretty big critters, weighing in at an estimated 50 tonnes for Argentinosaurus.  T rex weighed in at 7 tonnes, which is 2 tonnes heavier than a fully grown African elephant.  Scientists talk of gigantism and look for reasons why dinosaurs grew so big.  Perhaps we should be asking another question – why did life shrink to such small sizes.  Cows, donkeys, sheep, lions are all way smaller than the average sized dinosaur.  So for 165 million years gigantism was the norm, but most of our modern species have evolved very recently geologically speaking, so surely the reason for the relatively small size of our modern animals is the question to ask.

Just a thought.

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