How big Were the Mumakil? The movies portrayed them as massive beasts that resembled historical elephants only in shape, not in size. While Tolkien described them in letters 64 as “A large elephant of prehistoric size.” It appears the largest “prehistoric” elephant kind would have been the Proboscidea. However it is based on little fossil evidence of two thigh bones and unlikely Tolkien would even be aware of these estimates- but estimates say it could have been a massive 17.1 feet at the shoulder. Compared to a modern African elephant of 10-13 feet the shoulder and Asians avg of 9 feet. Below is a comparison of the African elephant with the 17 foot shoulder Proboscidea, a suggested maximum height. Human for scale. However the steppe mammoth is the largest of the woolly mammoth/elephant kind and is based on much better fossil evidence and regularly reached 13.1 at the shoulder with similar weight/size ration as modern elephants. One fossil found could have been 14.8 at the shoulder [max size not average]. Below is the scale of mammoths compared to humans along with modern African elephants, human just under 6 feet. To be lore accurate we are confined by Tolkien's stated “large elephant” and prehistoric size. This is still a massive elephant. People worshiped and thought divine the modern Indian elephant because of its size and strength. The average size of an Asian elephant is 9 feet at the shoulder. The massive African elephant is larger between 10-13 at the shoulder up to 4 feet higher at the shoulder. The Steppe Mammoth even lager at 13.1-14.8 feet at the shoulder. This is why I think the steppe Mammoth size of between 13.1 and 14.8 [max suggested from scant fossils] which would would be 113% as large as a maximum African elephant, is a good height for the mumakils and still within Tolkiens “large elephant” description. I think described with long tusks these beats should more resemble a steepe mamoths in not just size, but its features and have massive tusks. Below is a comparison of a steppe mammoth and a modern African elephant for size and features. The look of the Proboscidea above I think would be good as well just scaled down slightly in size. Followed by well known author Allen Lees depiction that resembled a mammoth. I think the movies tried as they often do the bigger= better presentation. But I think bigger is not always better and neither did Tolkien. It looses its sense of realism, reality, and its belivabilty in a historic time period that Tolkien so desired. “A secondary world which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true” it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken, the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the primary world from outside.” -J.R.R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien a Biography by Humphrey carpenter p 194-195 “I wanted people simply to get inside this story and take it as actual history.” -J R R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000 Mumakil Big as a House? This came from a hobbit nursery rhyme and was not to be taken as literal as Tolkien said in letters 64. Tolkien also never saw himself as writing and his books need to be understood from the perspective of the character and their observations such as a hobbit seeing a massive elephant.