Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Old Bones Unearth New Date For Giant Deer's Last Stand

Date:
October 11, 2004
Source:
University College London
Summary:
A new investigation into extinctions caused by climate change has revealed that the giant deer, previously thought to have been wiped out by a cold spell 10,500 years ago, instead survived well into the modern era.

A new investigation into extinctions caused by climate change has revealed that the giant deer, previously thought to have been wiped out by a cold spell 10,500 years ago, instead survived well into the modern era.

University College London (UCL) scientists scoured the continent to collect dozens of ancient bones and teeth which, when radiocarbon dated, revealed that the Eurasian giant deer survived to 7,000 years ago, much later than previously thought.

Giant deer first appeared about 400,000 years and roamed much of the Eurasian continent alongside the woolly mammoth. The magnificent beasts – 2 metres in shoulder height with antlers spanning 3.5 metres - appear to have made their final stand in the Ural mountains on the boundary of Europe and Asia, possibly the last haven for a species which was being progressively wiped out by climate change and the spread of ice sheets, according to the study by UCL Professors Adrian Lister and Tony Stuart, published in the latest issue of Nature.

Unfortunately for these majestic beasts, the extra three thousand years takes them well into the modern era when Stone Age hunting was at its most refined. The question is, did early man develop an appetite for supersized deer?

Professor Adrian Lister says: "Although we can now bring the extinction date forward by 3,000 years or so, we still can't tell what actually killed off these beasts. Man could have been the ultimate destroyer, but climate change might also have been the culprit. This is the mystery we have yet to solve.

"A double-whammy of intense cold spells around 20,000 and 10,500 years ago had already taken their toll on these striking beasts. The last of the giant deer, squeezed out of Europe, seem to have taken refuge in the southern Ural mountains near the Black Sea. The next question we need to address is what finally killed them off, whether it was hunting, agricultural clearing of land or changes in climate or vegetation."

Up until 20,000 years ago the giant deer, Megaloceros giganteus Blumenbach, was found across the middle latitudes of Eurasia, from Ireland to east of Lake Baikal. The males would have had to feed extensively to sustain the annual growth of their huge antlers. Indeed, it is thought that the antlers would have prevented males from entering even moderately dense woods, at least for part of the year, and one former theory for their extinction was that the seasonal nutrient requirements for the antlers alone might have killed off the species.

Traditionally, woolly mammoths were believed to have gone extinct around the same time as the giant deer, together with all the other extinct 'Ice Age' beasts such as the woolly rhino and saber-toothed cat, between about 12,000 and 10,000 years ago. However, a recent discovery found that the mammoth survived on Wrangel, a remote arctic island, until 3,600 years ago. The latest discovery shows that the giant deer also broke through this 10,000 year barrier to enter the modern era.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University College London. "Old Bones Unearth New Date For Giant Deer's Last Stand." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041007085651.htm>.
University College London. (2004, October 11). Old Bones Unearth New Date For Giant Deer's Last Stand. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041007085651.htm
University College London. "Old Bones Unearth New Date For Giant Deer's Last Stand." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041007085651.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) Parisians and local historians are fighting to save one of the French capital's iconic buildings, the La Samaritaine department store. Duration: 01:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Newsy (Apr. 12, 2014) Archeologists have found many fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits, including those of saber-tooth tigers and mammoths. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daddy Longlegs Once Had 4 Eyes

Daddy Longlegs Once Had 4 Eyes

Newsy (Apr. 11, 2014) A new fossil has revealed daddy longlegs one had an extra pair of eyes. Modern species retain the gene for the extra pair but never develop them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rosa Parks Memorabilia Remain in NY Warehouse

Rosa Parks Memorabilia Remain in NY Warehouse

AP (Apr. 10, 2014) A lifetime's worth of Rosa Parks' belongings, including her Presidential Medal of Freedom, sits unseen and unsold in a New York warehouse. (April 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins