For the first time, an elephant with dwarfism has been filmed in the wild. And though he may be shorter than average, he's not to be trifled with: This Tyrion Lannister of the Sri Lankan jungle was caught on camera besting a much larger male in a display of dominance.
Walawe Kota, on the right, faces off with a larger male. (Credit: Shermin de Silva, Uda Walawe Elephant Research Project)
The elephant, nicknamed Walawe Kota, appears to be at least 20 years old; in 2013, the scientists wrote in the report, Walawe Kota was seen with secretions on the sides of his head, signs of a male elephant's "period of heightened sexual activity and aggression" known as musth.
And his size works to his advantage "in the head-to-head combat of bull elephants," the scientists write, as he can throw "his bulk directly at an opponent, whereas a taller individual had to stoop down awkwardly and risk falling."
Walawe Kota throws his bulk under his opponent. (Credit: Shermin de Silva, Uda Walawe Elephant Research Project)
Asian elephants are not territorial, but they duke it out over female elephants. And here, too, Walawe Kota's stature may not be a disadvantage - female Asian elephants are smaller than the average male. De Silva and her colleagues did not see how the rumble ended, but the BBC notes that "two days later, they saw the Walawe Dwarf at the same location, resting under a tree with a group of females and calves."