According to new research, elephants and their ancestors were decimated by waves of extreme global environmental change, and were not chased by early humans. A study published in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution denies the claim that early human hunters slaughtered prehistoric elephants, mammoths, and felines thousands of years ago. Instead, the results show that at the end of the last Ice Age, the last elephant-like animals went extinct, ending the climate-induced global decline of elephants for millions of years.
Most families died in the Ice Age
The number of elephants has decreased sharply today, mainly due to habitat loss and hunting, so all types of elephants are protected. However, the animal survivors are the most diverse and widespread herbivorous group, which represented a single order of Proboscidea and which includes, among others, the completely extinct mastodons, stegodons, and toothed elephants.
Most families died in the Ice Age, some have also estimated the Holocene, However, human lifespan, at least so far, has only been survived by elephants (Elephantidae).
An international team of paleontologists from the Universities of Alcala, Bristol and Helsinki has conducted the most detailed analysis of the growth and extinction of elephants and their ancestors to date, studying the adaptations of 185 different species over the 60 million years of evolution in North Africa.
Nose of all sizes lived on this planet
To examine the rich evolutionary history, researchers surveyed pieces from the collections of fossil museums around the world, from the Natural History Museum in London to the Institute of Paleontology in Moscow.
Characteristics such as body size, skull shape, and chewing surface of the teeth were analyzed.
During the research, the team discovered that all breaths belong to a group of eight groups of adaptive strategies.
In the entire first half of evolution, only two of the eight nose groups appeared – said Dr Zhang Hanwen, co-author of the study and honorary research fellow in the School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol Heritage Online science portal. – Interestingly, at that time, most snouts were not herbivores.
They range in size from a pug dog to wild boar, he added, but some species may be as large as a hippopotamus. However, this has proven to be an evolutionary quandary. Moreover, these animals bear little resemblance to the elephants known today.
They were able to develop very quickly
The evolution of reeds changed dramatically 20 million years ago when the Afro-Arabian plate collided with the Eurasian continent, resulting in Providing a major migration corridor for diversifying mastodon species to discover new habitats in Eurasia and then crossed the Bering Bridge into North America.
In our study, we first quantified the direct effect of the spread of hoses outside Africa Explained by Dr. Juan Cantalapedra, A Nature’s environment and development He is the lead author of a study published in the scientific journal, and a research fellow at the University of Alcala in Spain. “These ancient North African species evolved slowly, with little diversity, yet we calculated that once they left Africa, reeds evolved twenty-five times faster, giving rise to a myriad of different forms.
He added that all this allowed for the so-called gap-sharing between several species nested in the same habitat. Such coexistence of giant herbivores is unparalleled in today’s ecosystems.
Only a few snouts have survived this period
During this period, animals followed the “adapt or die” principle, as their habitats were constantly affected by various influences and disturbances. And all this was due to the ever-changing global climate, which from time to time required new adaptive solutions from wildlife.
However, some snout species could not keep up, and these animals eventually became extinct.
The highly diverse and widespread taxa of mastodons eventually declined to fewer than a few species in America, including the well-known American mastodon from the well-known Ice Age. Elephants and stegodonts from Africa and East Asia seem to have emerged victorious from the “evolutionary battle,” but they were also badly affected by the subsequent ecological upheavals associated with the Ice Age.
The surviving species were forced to adapt to new, harsher habitats. The most extreme example of this is the woolly mammoth, whose thick, shaggy fur and large tusks aided it in an environment covered in thick snow.
The human factor is also not ruled out
Scientists’ analyzes identified the final extinction peaks of the order Proboscidea, which began about 2.4 million years ago and 160,000 and 75,000 years ago in Africa, Eurasia, and America, respectively.
It is important to note that these periods do not specify the exact timing of the extinction, but rather refer to the time when endangered species on that continent were most likely to become extinct. Dr. Juan Cantalapedra explained. However, the findings do not appear to correlate with the emergence and expansion of early humans or an increase in snout hunting.
The experts themselves did not expect the result, so they were surprised to see it. As stated in the study,
It appears as if the global pattern of the extinction of these reeds is repeatable in its recent geological history
No science takes into account the effects of early human diaspora.
Our data refutes some recent claims about the role of people who lived millions of years ago in the extermination of prehistoric elephants. Doctor Zhang Hanwen finally said. “Big game hunting probably became an important part of our ancestors’ livelihood strategy about 1.5 million years ago.
He stressed, however, that this does not mean that the role of the human factor in the story has been conclusively refuted. According to the new “scenario”, when modern people settled in all righteousness, the danger of extermination of primitive men increased.
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