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Ice Age mammals and their feeding habits

9 February 2014

One of the big problems uniformitarians have is the diet of Ice Age mammals. We've all heard of those mammoths that were found with grasses, sedges, and buttercups in their stomachs but it seems that is not enough – it is too temperate perhaps. Hence, the search has been on for an Ice Age diet befitting the tundra and the permafrost zone – and here we have another hypothesis at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140205133252.htm … where we learn the University of Copenhagen claims it was climate that was responsible for the demise of large mammals at the end of the last Ice Age (or the beginning of the Younger Dryas event). However, what exactly was involved in the extinction event (from a climate point of view as they do not embrace catastrophism as a factor) and set out to collate sediment samples and the gut content of woolly rhinoceros and mammoth from around the Arctic, most notably from a permafrost site in Siberia. Published in Nature, the research looks at the old chestnut of steppe vegetation and say this is not what caused the animals demise. Instead, it was the lack of a particular plant species, known as 'forbs' that was lacking in their diet towards the end of the Pleistocene. Back in the middle of the last Ice Age, around 50,000 years ago, Ice Age mammals flourished – and forbs made up a significant part of their diet.

A similar story is at http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/what-our-frozen-pas… … and provides images in support of the research. It seems one of the Siberian sites explored was composed of silt. It is assumed this was wind blown (and it was cold and dry in the Ice Age as a whole) with dates spread over 50,000 to 13,000 years. This story should be important – and it has lots of field work rather than computer simulation (but no doubt there was a bit of this too), proper data collection and a paper worth reading in full.

In spite of that it is probably true that a catastrophist interpretation would suffice to account for the silt – and many of the bones (bnut that is not to be). Overr at www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-02/uoc-ag020514.php … and reading between the lines we find that most of the great herds had perished long before the Late Glacial Maximum, let alone the much later Younger Dryas period. Catastrophism around 40,000 to 30,000 years ago is implied. We may note this exactly coincides with the disappearance of Neanderthals and the arrival in the fossil record of modern humans. The inference might be that large numbers of Neanderthals died out with the big herds – in a catastrophic event. What that event might have been is unknown – at the moment. It will eventually become a focus of research.

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