Monday, November 19, 2012

Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Rhinoceros and Reindeer Lived On Iberian Peninsula 150,000 Years Ago

Spanish researchers found the fossil remains of fauna of glacial climate in 72 Iberian sites,
mostly in the north of the peninsula. (Credit: Peter Novák)

ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2010) (Link) — A team made up of members of the University of Oviedo (UO) and the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) have gathered together all findings of the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros and the reindeer in the Iberian Peninsula to show that, although in small numbers, these big mammals -- prehistoric indicators of cold climates -- already lived in this territory some 150,000 years ago.

The presence of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), the woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis), the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), and to a lesser extent the wolverine (Gulo gulo), the arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), the musk-ox (Ovibos moschatus) and the Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica), has been linked to the paleoclimatic scale created on the basis of the isotopic composition of oxygen in the ice of Greenland.

"The findings of cold climate fauna in the Iberian Peninsula coincide with the periods of greatest global cooling recorded in the ice of Greenland," Diego Álvarez-Lao, main author of the work and researcher in the Palaeontology Department of the UO explains.

The study, which has been published in the journal Quaternary International, reveals that the oldest remains of mammals adapted to cold climates found in the Iberian Peninsula belong to great prehistoric mammals which lived isolated in Spain 150,000 years ago.

The "glacial fauna" entered the Peninsula at that time because "the environmental conditions in central and northern Europe were so extreme that the animals were obliged to migrate to the south, where the climate was less severe," Álvarez-Lao explains.

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