An ancient relative of the modern elephant may have lived in an aquatic environment. Fossilized teeth were found embedded in a rock in northern Egypt's Faiyum region, which is known to have been a coastal system that changed often from swamp to river and back again.
Little did I know that elephants share a common ancestor with manatees and other aquatic animals, so it makes sense that they would have some sort of water connection. Although the teeth that were found indicate that the ancient animals didn't quite look like we know them today – minus the recognizable trunk and much much smaller in stature (about three feet tall at the shoulder) – this creature would have eaten the freshwater plants that grew in the area. "Essentially it's a hippo-like mode of life. That's the closest animal that we can think of today," said Alexander Liu of Oxford University's department of earth sciences, lead author of recent research on the teeth. No wonder elephants are such good swimmers!
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