The Irish Elk

28 November 2013
Biology

The Irish Elk was in fact a giant deer – part of the Pleistocene megafauna – found in Britain, Ireland, and across northern Europe into Asia as far as Siberia. The best preserved remains were found in bogs in Ireland – hence the name. They flourished in NW Europe around 32,000 to 40,000 years ago – during a warm period within the last Ice Age (just prior to the Late Glacial Maximum, or LGM). At this time the Chauvet cave paintings show a grassland savannah across France and central Europe, with lions part of the landscape. We may suppose that northern Europe was more woodland than savannah, hence the Irish Elk. It subsequently disappeared during the LGM – but just as suddenly reappeared at the end of the last Ice Age but appears to have died out around about the time of the Younger Dryas event. What does this tell us about the Ice Age?

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