More than 12 young elephants (newborns, toddlers, teens) hang out in the mud in a glacial elephant “nursery” in southwestern Spain more than 100,000 years ago, according to a new analysis of trucks left by young people. was doing.
Scientists examined 34 sets of tracks belonging to straight fang elephants (Palaeoloxodon antique) — Extinct relatives Modern elephant — A place known as the Matalascañas trampling surface in Huelva, Iberian Peninsula.As the name implies, this was a short-term, busy area in the second half. Pleistocene era When a variety of animals, including Neanderthals, crossed the surface (2.6 million to about 11,700 years ago).
According to a new study, the presence of Neanderthal footprints (adults and juveniles) led them to visit nurseries to hunt vulnerable elephants, prey on calves, target calving women, and “stillborn and stillborn.” It suggests that she may have “cleaned the woman opportunistically.”
Most of the elephant footprints on the premises belonged to young people, accompanied by several young adult women. Only two tracks believed to have been made by adult males, suggesting that the area was a reproductive habitat predominantly occupied by females and their adolescents. The dense footprint of elephants provides “evidence of social behavior, especially snapshots of parental care,” the researchers reported.
“It was one of the most impressive elephant seeds I’ve ever lived,” said Carlos Neto de Carvalho, a geologist and scientific coordinator at the Natour Tejo Global Geopark, with straight fangs. The Elephant is a protected area in the interior of Portugal with recognized geological features. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
These elephants were over 13 feet (4 meters) in shoulder height and weighed up to 17 tons (15 meters). Biologists studying modern elephants can estimate animal size, age, and weight based on track size, shape, and depth. Netode Carvalho and his colleagues emailed Live Science that they applied the same method to ice age trucks. ..
Most of the young elephants that produced the site’s smallest truck were “quite small,” he said. Their estimated shoulder height was only 24 inches (60 centimeters) and weighed about 155 pounds (70 kilograms).
The trampled surface of Matalascañas is usually covered with a few feet of sandy beach. This is “great for tourists visiting the Andalusian coast, but terrible for very curious paleontologists,” said Netodecarvalho. However, the spring tides of 2020 washed away the sand and discovered thousands of railroad tracks and vast areas covered by railroad tracks.
Hundreds of them were oval footprints associated with elephants and their close relatives, ranging in diameter from 3.8 to 21.5 inches (9.6 to 54.5 cm). For research, scientists have described tracks that can be decisively linked to individual straight fang elephants, Neto de Carvalho said. There were 15 babies under the age of two. Eight young people from 2 to 7 years old. Six adolescents aged 8 to 15 years. And 5 adults over 15 years old.
In modern elephants, social groups are sexually isolated. They usually revolve around a matriarchal family consisting of related women who care for young women, and when men become sexually mature (around 14 or 15 years old) they leave the group and then women. Scientists write that they will return to the lead group and mate. study. With seasonal ponds and nutritious vegetation, Matalascañas was a great place for elephant nurseries, as young elephants need to drink frequently and adults cannot move as much as possible. As a result, women-led groups are usually close to the water.
Other coastal dune sites in Portugal that preserve the footprints of straight fang elephants also show small herds, consisting of females and offspring. All of these trackways were “discovered at ages from over 100,000 years ago to at least 70,000 years ago, so straight elephant maternal herds have visited the coast for thousands of years. “Netodecarvalho said.
“In the case of Matalascañas, there is good ecological evidence of the behavioral purpose of such visits,” he added. “They gave birth near small freshwater lakes and ponds in open landscapes where they could control newborn predators from a distance.”
However, Neanderthal footprints, and stone tools found here, suggest that the elephant family may not have been able to avoid hungry human predators. Studies have shown that conserved evidence from elsewhere suggests that elephants and their relatives, “especially young individuals,” were a major part of the Neanderthal diet. Coastal nurseries such as Matalascañas, rich in newborns, calves and vulnerable females, may have been a seasonal elephant buffet for Neanderthals, researchers reported.
The findings were published in the journal on September 16th. Science report..
Originally published in Live Science.
Fossil footprints show a baby elephant playing in an ancient “nursery”
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