The scientist from the Institute of Plants and Animals Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Ural Branch), has made a description of the giant dear remains, found in the Ural, and has determined their age. Giant deer Megaloceros giganteus originated as a species in the preglacial epoch, lived through the glaciation period and died out about 8-9 thousand years ago after the climate had become warmer. The remains will help to investigate how the giant dear lived and why this species disappeared. The research has been carried out with the help of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research grants 02-04-49431 and ‘The evolution of the mammalian fauna and flora in Western, Central and Eastern Europe during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition (25-10 kyr B.R.)’.
About ten thousand years ago when the glaciation period was already over, the giant or the so- called big-horned deer, contemporary of the mammoth and the wooly rhinoceros, still inhabited the Eurasian plains. They were real giants among ungulate animals: their horns with big blades, which resembled those of the fallow-deer or the elk, reached up to four meters in width. The deer used to pasture on humid meadows and frequently fell a prey to primeval hunters. Then the species has become extinct. Modern scientists are still investigating possible reasons for the giant deer disappearance.
P. A. Kosintsev, a researcher from Yekaterinburg, has studied the remains of the giant deer, found during the last decades in the Middle and South Ural. With the help of A. Lister and A. Stuart, British colleagues from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) , P. A. Kosintsev has determined the age of the findings. To this end the scientist used the radiocarbon analysis method with the accelerative mass-spectrometry. It turned out that the animals, the bones of which were dated, perished during the periods when the climate was changing: warm periods were being replaced by the cold ones and vice versa. Although the glaciation period ended about ten thousand years ago, some long periods of the climate cooling down and warming up took place repeatedly. It is very likely that these climatic changes caused the extinction of the giant deer species. An indirect indication that the climatic changes affected the disappearance of the species provides the fact that the bones of the deer were found in the same horizons with the remains of a variety of animals, this proves easy adaptability of the species to various surrounding animal species.
Sergey Komarov | alfa
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