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      “Big Game” Extinction Caused by Late Pleistocene Climatic Change: Irish Elk (Megaloceros Giganteus) in Ireland

      Quaternary Research

      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          Megaloceros giganteus, the largest Eurasian deer, inhabited Ireland from ca. 12,000 yr B.P. to the time of its extinction ca. 10,600 yr B.P. The archaeologic record documents that people arrived on the island no earlier than 9000 yr B.P., so they could not have caused the extinction in Ireland. Close stratigraphic association of the geologically youngest elk fossils with sediments indicating the onset of the Nahanagan Stadial (approximately = Younger Dryas) implicates climatic change as the exterminator. Palynologic data support the idea that extinction probably resulted when forage quantity and quality along with length of the spring green-up decreased during the Nahanagan Stadial. For M. giganteus, this meant that the energy intake required to sustain large bodies, grow enormous antlers, and build fat reserves for winter was increasingly difficult to maintain, until deaths, primarily by winterkill, outnumbered births.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Sensitivity and response time of natural systems to climatic change in the late quaternary

           H.E. Wright (1984)
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            The Timing of Late Pleistocene Mammalian Extinctions in North America

            More than 375 14C dates from 150 fossil sites in North America have been analyzed to evaluate the question of extinction of Late Pleistocene megafauna. When critically evaluated, no 14C ages for any extinct Pleistocene genera are younger than 10,000 yr B.P.
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              The Late Devensian Vegetation of Ireland

               W. WATTS (1977)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                Quaternary Research
                Quat. res.
                Elsevier BV
                0033-5894
                1096-0287
                January 1986
                January 2017
                : 25
                : 01
                : 128-135
                Article
                10.1016/0033-5894(86)90049-9
                © 1986

                http://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/

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