Buesching The story of Mastodon is engraved on his ivory

TIt’s here A worse fate than ending your days fighting for your reason for existence. And the reason for the existence of Buesching Mastodon was breeding. The line connecting him to his ancestral past not only stretched more than his elephant’s brain could have imagined, but radiometric dating identifies the birth of the planet Earth at the moment of space 4.54 billion years ago. Until then, I couldn’t imagine any brain.

Geologists are discussing what is the true first trace of life on Earth. However, the fact that organisms have existed for about 4 billion years can be a good estimate. Since then, natural selection screening has done its job. Only the strong have survived long enough to deliver their genes to the next generation. And boy, he was strong. Two tonnes of rippling muscle covered a skeleton of the same weight, all powered by an additional four tonnes of internal organs. And fangs. Two giant fangs, each 3 meters long and weighing 40 kg.

Buesching It is their fangs that best tell the story of Mastodon. Because, for more than 13,000 years since his last encounter with another fateful bull, they were discovered in 1998 at a peat operation near Fort Wayne, along with the rest of his almost complete skeleton. .. , Indiana. His biographers Joshua Miller and Daniel Fisher have been studying them ever since and have just announced their latest discoveries *.

Fangs are huge teeth. And the teeth contain calcium phosphate. This is the material that reinforces them. However, because calcium is in the same row as the rarer element of the periodic table, strontium, the two are chemically similar and natural selection has never had a hard time learning the difference. If the fang assembly process encounters a strontium atom, it is incorporated as if it were calcium and is harmless.

This harmless mistake gave Dr. Miller and Dr. Fisher much of what it takes to write a life story for Mastodon. Strontium has two isotopes (atoms of different weights). These proportions in the species of plants that Mastodon ate depend on their proportions in the underlying rocks. Like a tree, fangs have a growing layer every year. And since Midwestern rocks are so well studied, their strontium ratios are well known. As a result, the pair was able to track with reasonable confidence where the mastodon was when the proper fangs were growing.

Given by a second isotope pair (this time an oxygen atom) when he was there. The ratio of the two isotopes in stormwater depends on temperature, or season, because water molecules, including heavy versions of oxygen, are less likely to evaporate. And oxygen from rainwater also reached Mastodon via feed.

Where, then. And when. Dr. Miller and Dr. Fisher hesitated to remove minimal substances from precious samples for isotope analysis, focusing on animals aged 11 to 16 and 31 to 34 years. good. Similar to the damage caused by the fight against other mastodons, nutritional stress manifests itself in the appearance of the growing layer.

According to a previous study, male Mastodon lived with his mother, siblings, aunts, and cousins ​​in a matriarchal group similar to modern elephants when he was young. Dr. Miller and Dr. Fisher didn’t mind wasting precious ivory to confirm this. Instead, they started with rebellious teenagers.

The teenage Buesching Mastodon they discovered expanded his range year after year in what is now Midwestern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, but did not show a seasonal preference for a particular location. rice field. He was also stressed by his adolescent years. At least, his fangs suggest that he wasn’t eating as much as he might have.

But with his strength as an adult, all the signs of stress have disappeared. Now he is moving seasonally. He returned in early summer to a much smaller area near the center of the area where he was believed to have functioned as a mating site.

And he was a grumpy person. Damage to his fangs suggests that from the age of 26 he was in regular scrap at this time of the year. These may reflect a period of estrus — a period of aggressive temperament experienced by modern male elephants. If so, it suggests that estrus has evolved for a long time in the past. The last common ancestor of Mastodon and modern proboscideans lived about 25 meters ago.

Whatever the details, he met his match in the eighth year of these jousts. All the reproductive instincts dug into his genes by the successful breeding of his ancestors, which culminated at the moment of his death-a faint mind never acquired a fair woman- .. One of the enemy’s fangs broke through the right fossa, a sheet of thin bone on the side of the skull, and cut the artery. It left a hole about 5 cm in diameter that is visible to this day. That’s it for him. But the success of his previous season probably saw him pass on his genes to the next generation, and that’s the end of the job.

But even a line of powerful creatures like Mastodon does not last forever. Paleoanthropologists differ in when the migration to the Americas began, but everyone is aware of the rise of a culture called Clovis with effective stone tools and weapons, especially a suite of spearheads. .. It started shortly after the last deadly battle of Buesching Mastodon.

Clovis weapons have changed the rules of engagement between humans and local wildlife. Mastodon, along with all other large American mammals, from proboscidean mammoths to saber-toothed tigers to armored glyptodon, is with this best embodiment of a 4 billion year sieving of the gene pool. Did not survive the contact for a long time. With everything gone, their genetic lineage was cut off forever. But not forgotten. At least not while biographers like Dr. Miller and Dr. Fisher are doing their deal. ■■

* PNAS, male Mastodon landscape use changed with maturity (Late Pleistocene, North America), JH Milleretal.

Buesching The story of Mastodon is engraved on his ivory

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