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      Confirmed archaeological evidence of water deer in Vietnam: relics of the Pleistocene or a shifting baseline?


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          Studies of archaeological and palaeontological bone assemblages increasingly show that the historical distributions of many mammal species are unrepresentative of their longer-term geographical ranges in the Quaternary. Consequently, the geographical and ecological scope of potential conservation efforts may be inappropriately narrow. Here, we consider a case-in-point, the water deer Hydropotes inermis, which has historical native distributions in eastern China and the Korean peninsula. We present morphological and metric criteria for the taxonomic diagnosis of mandibles and maxillary canine fragments from Hang Thung Binh 1 cave in Tràng An World Heritage Site, which confirm the prehistoric presence of water deer in Vietnam. Dated to between 13 000 and 16 000 years before the present, the specimens are further evidence of a wider Quaternary distribution for these Vulnerable cervids, are valuable additions to a sparse Pleistocene fossil record and confirm water deer as a component of the Upper Pleistocene fauna of northern Vietnam. Palaeoenvironmental proxies suggest that the Tràng An water deer occupied cooler, but not necessarily drier, conditions than today. We consider if the specimens represent extirpated Pleistocene populations or indicate a previously unrecognized, longer-standing southerly distribution with possible implications for the conservation of the species in the future.

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          Radiocarbon ( 14 C) ages cannot provide absolutely dated chronologies for archaeological or paleoenvironmental studies directly but must be converted to calendar age equivalents using a calibration curve compensating for fluctuations in atmospheric 14 C concentration. Although calibration curves are constructed from independently dated archives, they invariably require revision as new data become available and our understanding of the Earth system improves. In this volume the international 14 C calibration curves for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as for the ocean surface layer, have been updated to include a wealth of new data and extended to 55,000 cal BP. Based on tree rings, IntCal20 now extends as a fully atmospheric record to ca. 13,900 cal BP. For the older part of the timescale, IntCal20 comprises statistically integrated evidence from floating tree-ring chronologies, lacustrine and marine sediments, speleothems, and corals. We utilized improved evaluation of the timescales and location variable 14 C offsets from the atmosphere (reservoir age, dead carbon fraction) for each dataset. New statistical methods have refined the structure of the calibration curves while maintaining a robust treatment of uncertainties in the 14 C ages, the calendar ages and other corrections. The inclusion of modeled marine reservoir ages derived from a three-dimensional ocean circulation model has allowed us to apply more appropriate reservoir corrections to the marine 14 C data rather than the previous use of constant regional offsets from the atmosphere. Here we provide an overview of the new and revised datasets and the associated methods used for the construction of the IntCal20 curve and explore potential regional offsets for tree-ring data. We discuss the main differences with respect to the previous calibration curve, IntCal13, and some of the implications for archaeology and geosciences ranging from the recent past to the time of the extinction of the Neanderthals.
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            Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines

            The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threatened, just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss. This view overlooks the current trends of population declines and extinctions. Using a sample of 27,600 terrestrial vertebrate species, and a more detailed analysis of 177 mammal species, we show the extremely high degree of population decay in vertebrates, even in common “species of low concern.” Dwindling population sizes and range shrinkages amount to a massive anthropogenic erosion of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services essential to civilization. This “biological annihilation” underlines the seriousness for humanity of Earth’s ongoing sixth mass extinction event. The population extinction pulse we describe here shows, from a quantitative viewpoint, that Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe than perceived when looking exclusively at species extinctions. Therefore, humanity needs to address anthropogenic population extirpation and decimation immediately. That conclusion is based on analyses of the numbers and degrees of range contraction (indicative of population shrinkage and/or population extinctions according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature) using a sample of 27,600 vertebrate species, and on a more detailed analysis documenting the population extinctions between 1900 and 2015 in 177 mammal species. We find that the rate of population loss in terrestrial vertebrates is extremely high—even in “species of low concern.” In our sample, comprising nearly half of known vertebrate species, 32% (8,851/27,600) are decreasing; that is, they have decreased in population size and range. In the 177 mammals for which we have detailed data, all have lost 30% or more of their geographic ranges and more than 40% of the species have experienced severe population declines (>80% range shrinkage). Our data indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.
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              The Last Glacial Maximum.

              We used 5704 14C, 10Be, and 3He ages that span the interval from 10,000 to 50,000 years ago (10 to 50 ka) to constrain the timing of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in terms of global ice-sheet and mountain-glacier extent. Growth of the ice sheets to their maximum positions occurred between 33.0 and 26.5 ka in response to climate forcing from decreases in northern summer insolation, tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, and atmospheric CO2. Nearly all ice sheets were at their LGM positions from 26.5 ka to 19 to 20 ka, corresponding to minima in these forcings. The onset of Northern Hemisphere deglaciation 19 to 20 ka was induced by an increase in northern summer insolation, providing the source for an abrupt rise in sea level. The onset of deglaciation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet occurred between 14 and 15 ka, consistent with evidence that this was the primary source for an abrupt rise in sea level approximately 14.5 ka.

                Author and article information

                R Soc Open Sci
                Royal Society Open Science
                The Royal Society
                June 30, 2021
                June 2021
                : 8
                : 6
                : 210529
                [ 1 ]School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen's University Belfast, , Elmwood Avenue, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK
                [ 2 ]Oxford University Museum of Natural History, , Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PW, UK
                [ 3 ]Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Archaeology, , 61 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam
                [ 4 ]School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester, , University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
                [ 5 ]Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, , Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK
                Author notes

                Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5472988.

                Author information
                © 2021 The Authors.

                Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : March 28, 2021
                : June 7, 2021
                Funded by: Arts and Humanities Research Council (Global Challenges Research Fund);
                Award ID: AH/N005902/1
                Funded by: Xuan Truong Construction Enterprise;
                Ecology, Conservation, and Global Change Biology
                Research Articles

                water deer,hydropotes inermis,zooarchaeology,vietnam,pleistocene


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