The ages of the holotype and a referred molar of Elephas maximus buski described by Matsumoto in 1927, and a molar supposedly of the same subspecies described by Makiyama in 1938 from Higashi Betsuin temple in Nagoya, were investigated by AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) dating. The holotype (IGPS 7266) may date from any of four periods between 1676 and 1941 cal AD, with 1732–1777 cal AD being the most probable (40.7% likelihood). The referred specimen (IGPS 5845) most likely dates from 1784–1796 cal AD (39.4% probability), and the specimen from Higashi Betsuin from 1454–1494 cal AD (52.9% probability). The present specimens, including the holotype are, therefore, not fossils. Historical records show that Asian elephants did not inhabit Japan at these times. These molars must have been imported into Japan in some fashion during historical times and do not represent a subspecies distinct from extant Asian elephants, E. maximus. Although the nominal subspecies E. maximus buski is clearly invalid, it is not clear which of the three extant subspecies of Asian elephant is its senior synonym in this research.
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Vol. 21 • No. 2