Unknown Hoofed Mammal of the Middle East.
Physical description: Robust body. Massive, palmate antlers or horns on top of the head. Two small, conical horns on the forehead in back of the eyes. Large, broad nostrils.
Behavior: A halter is shown on its muzzle, implying domestication or at least capture.
Significant sighting: In 1927 or 1928, during an excavation of the Sumerian city of Kish, near Al Hillah in central Iraq, archaeologists unearthed a bronze chariot-ring that dates from 2800-2750 B.C. Inscribed on the ring was the figure of a deerlike animal with large antlers. Possible explanations:
(1) A Persian fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamica), suggested by David S. Reese. The broken-off antlers on the artifact were rediscovered in 1977 and look much more like this deer's.
(2) A surviving sivathere, a member of a subfamily of ox-sized giraffids from Eurasia and Africa with a hefty build, relatively short legs and neck, and branching, skin-covered horns. These animals lived from 15 million years ago in the Late Miocene to the Late Pleistocene. Other indications that sivatheres may have persisted into historical times include: an 8,000-year-old petroglyph in a Saharan rock shelter; Syrian and Egyptian figurines in the British Museum; and a recently produced Russian statuette and tin whistles from Siberia that depict an animal with horns similar to a sivathere, called Bramatherium. See also Ki-Lin. Sources: Edwin H. Colbert, "Was the Extinct
Giraffe (Sivatherium) Known to the Early Sumerians?" American Anthropologist 38 (1936): 605-608; "5,000-year-old Sumerian Stag Reunited with Antlers," Bulletin of the Field Museum ofNatural History 48 (October 1977): 3; Edwin H. Colbert, "The Enigma of Sivatherium," Plateau 51, no. 1 (1978): 32-33; Christine Janis, "Fossil Ungulate Mammals Depicted on Archaeological Artifacts," Cryptozoology 6 (1987): 8-23; David S. Reese, "Paleocryptozoology and Archaeology: A Sivathere No Longer," Cryptozoology 9 (1990):
100-107; Christine Janis, "Sivatherium Defended," Cryptozoology 9 (1990): 111-115.
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