Giants end Elephants of Sicily

Valerio Agnesi, Carolina Di Patti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Citations (Scopus)


The great abundance of fascinating and impressive natural phenomena, like the active volcanoes, the thermal springs or the earthquakes, have fed the imagination of men, who have interpreted them as the manifestation of the existence of supernatural and fantastic beings giving rise to myth and legend.Among so many myths one particularly, that of the Cyclops Polyphemus, is closely linked to the geopalaeontological history of the Sicilian island.The discovery, often inside caves, of the fossil skulls of elephants, in which (in the frontal part) there is a great nasal hollow where during life there was the trunk, gave birth to the belief that one-eyed giants had existed, in past times; in fact the nasal hollow was wrongly interpreted as the orbital of a single frontal eye that characterized these monstrous beings, while the gigantic size was inferred by the notable dimensions of the skulls and the bones that are frequently found. In 1830 Giorgio Cuvier, attests the fossil nature of the bones and puts an end to the different inferences formulated on their origin.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMyth and Geology
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology


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