The Elephant cave is an underwater sight of stunning beauty and unique history for both experienced and amateur divers. The cave got its name from the discovery of fossilized remains of elephants that belong to the new species ‘elephas chaniensis’ that are estimated to be 50-60 thousand years old. Along with the elephant’s fossils, there are fossilized deer bones that belonged to both normal and dwarf deer. The cave is absolutely magical, as it is naturally decorated with white and red stalactites and stalagmites creating an enchanted environment.
More History on the Elephant cave
The cave was accidentally discovered by a snorkeler in 1999. The Ephorate of Paleoanthropology & Speleology undertook exploration of the cave in 2000 where the discovery of fossilized bones of elephants and dear were found. The discovered skeleton parts of the elephant (tusk, teeth and vertebrae), could be argued that they belong to a new endemic species, which was named ‘elephas chaniensis’, after the region of Chania. The fossils belong to three adults and two younger members. These elephants were significantly different from the African or Indian elephant, as they were three feet high and had thicker bones and huskier bodies. The age of the bones are estimated at 50,000-60,000 years old.
The deer bones are also interesting, as they belong to both a normal size deer and deer dwarfs (up to 30 cm). It is believed that the excessive increase in deer population, significantly reduced food availability which lead to the extinction of the elephants in the area.