Their scruffy beards weren't ironic, but there are reasons mammoths and mastodons could have been the hipsters of the Ice Age.
According to research from the University of Cincinnati, the famously fuzzy relatives of elephants liked living in Greater Cincinnati long before it was trendy at the end of the last ice age. A study led by Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology, shows the ancient proboscideans enjoyed the area so much they likely were year-round residents and not nomadic migrants as previously thought.
They even had their own preferred hangouts. Crowley's findings indicate each species kept to separate areas based on availability of favored foods here at the southern edge of the Last Glacial Maximum's major ice sheet.
"I suspect that this was a pretty nice place to live, relatively speaking," Crowley says. "Our data suggest that animals probably had what they needed to survive here year-round."
COULD THE PAST SAVE THE FUTURE?
Crowley's research with co-author and recent UC graduate Eric Baumann, "Stable Isotopes Reveal Ecological Differences Among Now-Extinct Proboscideans from the Cincinnati Region, USA," was recently published in Boreas, an international academic research journal.
Learning more about the different behaviors of these prehistoric creatures could benefit their modern-day cousins, African and Asian elephants. Both types are on the World Wildlife Fund's endangered species list. Studying how variable different types of elephants might have been in the past, Crowley says, might help ongoing efforts to protect these largest of land mammals from continued threats such as poaching and habitat destruction.
"There are regionally different stories going on," Crowley says. "There's not one overarching theme that we can say about a mammoth or a mastodon. And that's becoming more obvious in studies people are doing in different places. A mamm
|Contact: Tom Robinette|
University of Cincinnati