|Heads of asian and african elephants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
By the time they were used in music hall, vaudeville and circus, Asian elephants already had over 1,500 years history in domestication, leading back to the logging culture of the Indus Valley and a time when they were employed as war elephants. African elephants had also been used in this manner. During the huge saga of wars that occurred following the death of Alexander the Great there is the only recorded incident of Asian elephants being pitted against their African counterparts. This battle - the Battle of Raphia between Ptolemy IV, the King of Egypt, and Antiochus III the Great, the King of the Seleucid kingdom - recorded by Greek historian, Polybius, where Antiochus's Asian elephants outmatched their curiously smaller counterparts in Ptolemy's army apparently led to Asian elephants being called Elephas maximus. This fascinating account by (e)science explains how DNA evidence revealed what species of African elephants were used at this fateful battle.
Read the article here.
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