Recent research on fossils found in north-east Thailand suggest a Mastodon-like jumbo that may have roamed the region 10 million years ago, Thai scientists said on Thursday.
Thailand’s North-eastern Research Institute at Nakorn Ratchasima Rajabhat University has concluded that seven samples of fossil teeth found in the province 10 years ago are those of a new species that lived in the Miocene period.
“It was shaped quite similar to the Asian elephant, but smaller,” said the institute’s deputy director Chavalit Vidthayanon.
The institute came to its conclusion after years of comparing their fossils to those of other ancient elephant species.
While the new species may have been shaped like an Asian elephant, it was not the ancestor of the modern species, Chavalit said.
“It is the same family as the American Mastodon,” he said.
All modern elephant species are believed to be the descendants of a small pig-like mammal from North Africa.
The institute is preparing its research for publication in an international science journal. If accepted, the new species will be given a name.