Thursday, 11 June 2015

Giant deer were still present in Southern Germany after Ice Age

June 8, 2015
Universitaet Tübingen
Scientists reconstruct the DNA of the Megaloceros from findings in caves in the Swabian Alb and discover possible causes for its later extinction.
The mass extinction at the end of the last Ice Age led to the disappearance of many animal species including the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, cave bears and the Megaloceros, also known as the giant deer or Irish elk, which could weigh as much as 1.5 tons. Scientists still do not fully know the precise reasons for the extinction of many species; it probably took place due to a combination of climate change and hunting by humans. However, some species of animals survived the end of the last glacial period somewhat longer than others. They include the giant deer, which populated huge areas of Eurasia during the Ice Age. These animals were still present in parts of north-western Europe after the Ice Age, before they finally disappeared about 7,000 years ago. Scientists at the University of Tübingen have now managed to isolate mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) from deer bones found in the Swabian Alb that are 12,000 years old which sheds light on how prevalent these animals were in southern Germany.
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