Elephants in Spain?

February 5th, 2008

Best thread of the month on the forum goes to this fascinating piece of hypothetical speculation started by Steve T and followed up by several others. Could modern African elephants have also lived in Iberia? Steve T:
“Aristotle said around 350 BC that elephants were numerous in the lands around the Pillars of Hercules (straits of Gibraltar). When this has been quoted it has been understood to mean that there were elephants on the ‘African side’, as there is later historical evidence of elephants in North African eg Hannibal’s elephants (except his own personal elephant, which is believed to have been Asian …and bigger than the rest, which were North African elephants). Aristotle may have wanted to include Iberia too, as having elephants but this not made clear at all. What we do know is that elephants are excellent swimmers. The Straits of Gibraltar are only 14 km wide, which is nothing for an elephant. So, if there were elephant populations on the ‘Moroccan side’, there is a good chance that there were populations on the Spanish side or at least elephants were occasional or even regular visitors.” Read the arguments