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Mastodons and Mammoths of the Auvergne

by Andre
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Andre
#1
Jan13-10, 04:40 AM
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Next year there will be a international paleontologic congress about extinct trunk animals in France in the Auvergne. It's the idea that there should also be a book about that, to be ready at the the congress.

I've been asked to translate the manuscript for that actually, just like the previous one about Sabertoothed cats. The translation is in two stages actually. I substitute Dutch words with English words and then somebody else, a native tongue, will change that into decent English.

Not sure if this is the right forum as it is mostly about paleontology, the reseach to the flora and fauna of the geologic past. However, this is the first part of the prologue:

This book is about prehistoric animals, extinct giants also known as mega fauna, and more exactly about trunk animals or proboscideans using the formal taxonomic name for this order: Proboscidea. These were large land mammals of which we find fossil remains back on a daily basis. Often this are tusks, often considered the main symbol of these animals as well as the modern Elephants still living in the wild in Africa and mostly domesticated in India. But also molars and parts of the skeleton have been collected frequently. Even complete skeletons have been retrieved, consisting of hundreds of bones. The amount of remains in various places and their abundance and condition indicate that these animals have been plentiful here in a large time frame, up to millions of years, in the Tertiary and Quartenary Era of the geologic past. Many of these animals have also been found in the Auverge in the Haute Loire in France, some renowned locations are Vialette, Seneze and Chilhac. These names have an enthralling effect on many specialists because many thousands of fossils have been collected here over the years, which have found their way to the collections of the scientific institutes and museums.
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aspergers@40
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Jan13-10, 05:30 AM
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I'm also interested in the megafauna extinctions of the globe at the end of the pleistocene. There appears to be an age of around 50,000 to 40,000 years ago when a lot of megafauna appears to have become extinct, such as 6 species in Australia Archaeology and Australian Megafauna. There's more recent research, which I'm currently trying to locate. Disregarding the human element for the moment, I believe that a natural catastrophic event could have led to unexpeted climate change.

edit - here it is Lost Giants Of Australia
Andre
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Jan13-10, 06:02 AM
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There is no specific link in this book about mass extinctions. What we see in Europe is gradual replacement of one species with another. For instance Borson's mastodon (Mammut borsoni) as first on scene in the Pliocene some 5 million years ago, but got gradually replaced by the mastodon of the Auvergne (Anancus arvernensis) some times towards the end of the Pliocene, only to be replaced once more by the Southerly mammoth (Mammuthus meriodionalis), which in turn evolved via the Steppe mammoth (Mammuthus trogontheri) halfway the Pleistocene, into the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) in the late Pleistocene.

What's perhaps more interesting is why these species were here in sequence apparantly taking over the habitats, while in North America similar species lived together in the same period.

Anyway during the translation I may use this thread for questions about the use of language.

aspergers@40
#4
Jan13-10, 06:32 AM
P: 61
Mastodons and Mammoths of the Auvergne

Quote Quote by Andre View Post
What's perhaps more interesting is why these species were here in sequence apparantly taking over the habitats, while in North America similar species lived together in the same period.
North America was connected to Asia via the Bering land bridge from time to time. I remember reading that mammoth species crossed this barrier and therefore lived side by side.
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Anyway during the translation I may use this thread for questions about the use of language.
Fine by me.
Andre
#5
Jan13-10, 06:39 AM
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Quote Quote by aspergers@40 View Post
North America was connected to Asia via the Bering land bridge from time to time. I remember reading that mammoth species crossed this barrier and therefore lived side by side.
Which does not explain why mammoths and mastodons did not live side by side in Europe, although there is one exception, the European straight tusked Elephant (Elephas antiquus) coincided (is that a correct use?) with both the Steppe mammoth and the woolly mammoth during the mid to late Pleistocene, although this was a clear inhabitant of forests, while the mammoths were steppe dwellers.
aspergers@40
#6
Jan13-10, 07:01 AM
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Andre; I happened across this Extinction Of Proboscideans In The Great Lakes Of North America
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Andre
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Jan13-10, 04:51 PM
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Thanks.

meanwhile I'm looking at this fragment.

Remains of mammoths have been known from the medieval period, the huge bones have been attributed to giants, giant moles, unicorns or just a freak of nature. A historical event was an exhibition created by a **chirurgijn**, who managed to secure a number of those fossils, and displayed them as 'bones of giants' in 1613AD.
I'm looking at Chirurgijn. It's the Dutch medieval word for doctor (chirurg = surgeon). Obviously the dictionary does not cover medieval words. Anybody?
Evo
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Jan13-10, 05:31 PM
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Quote Quote by Andre View Post
I'm looking at Chirurgijn. It's the Dutch medieval word for doctor (chirurg = surgeon). Obviously the dictionary does not cover medieval words. Anybody?
The word chirurgeon, is the archaic word for surgeon.
Sorry!
#9
Jan13-10, 10:30 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
The word chirurgeon, is the archaic word for surgeon.
Yep it's an old French word too, for surgeon.
Andre
#10
Jan14-10, 04:09 AM
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Thanks, Evo
aspergers@40
#11
Jan14-10, 05:48 AM
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Quote Quote by Andre View Post
Which does not explain why mammoths and mastodons did not live side by side in Europe, although there is one exception, the European straight tusked Elephant (Elephas antiquus) coincided (is that a correct use?) with both the Steppe mammoth and the woolly mammoth during the mid to late Pleistocene, although this was a clear inhabitant of forests, while the mammoths were steppe dwellers.
I don't think I have the time to delve so deeply into the evolution and distribution patterns of megafauna of just the Auvergne unfortunately Andre. I'm interested in the global issue and the many different timings and facets of these extinctions, as well as the reason they grew so big in the first place ('Hot Sun/Cold Sea' hypothesis imo). This leaves open the question that if a particular case can be viewed as without human influence, then it implies that a 'freak' extinction event occurred, rather than the familiar rhythms of the ice ages. The 'normal' abrupt climate changes obviously didn't cause extinction the many times before..
drpaleo
#12
Jan14-10, 05:40 PM
P: 2
Evo asked me to jump in here. Megafauna extinctions are staggered--basically tracking human arrivals (46,000 BP in Australia, 13,000 BP in the Americas, 6,000 BP in the Caribbean islands). Mammoths survived on the edges of Beringia into the Holocene--St. Paul Island off Alaska, Wrangel Island off Siberia. Their survival argues against climatic causation. The bolide theory of Firestone, West and Kennett is looking weak as new studies fail to replicate the microparticle concentrations at 12,900 BP that they reported.

I recommend Gary Haynes recent book of American megafaunal extinctions.








drpaleo
aspergers@40
#13
Jan15-10, 08:31 AM
P: 61
Quote Quote by drpaleo View Post
Evo asked me to jump in here. Megafauna extinctions are staggered--basically tracking human arrivals (46,000 BP in Australia, 13,000 BP in the Americas, 6,000 BP in the Caribbean islands). Mammoths survived on the edges of Beringia into the Holocene--St. Paul Island off Alaska, Wrangel Island off Siberia. Their survival argues against climatic causation. The bolide theory of Firestone, West and Kennett is looking weak as new studies fail to replicate the microparticle concentrations at 12,900 BP that they reported.

I recommend Gary Haynes recent book of American megafaunal extinctions.
drpaleo
Thanks for the input drpaleo. I mentioned the book earlier and now that I've skimmed throught it, I totally agree on the conclusions and your consensus in general. I'm interested to know how you arrived at the 46,000 BP figure for Australia though. I'm not disagreeing, it's just that I'm not convinced early man had sea-crossing canoe technology 40,000 years ago. Pulse-Pause Of Austronesian Canoe Technology
drpaleo
#14
Jan15-10, 09:38 AM
P: 2
Several archaeological sites in Australia date to about 45-48,000 BP. Uranium-thorium dating of last representatives of Australian megafauna puts their extinction at ca. 46,000. Check out articles by Roberts et al., Gifford Miller et al. With lowered sea levels, maximum distance over water to Australia would have been ca. 50 miles. The watercraft used presumably would have been some sort of raft, not an oceangoing canoe. Amazingly, Homo erectus must have gotten to the island of Flores by rafting at ca. 800,000 BP (see research by Morland on this). Even more amazing, New World monkeys appear to descend from African proto-monkeys that rafted accidentally about 35 million yrs ago.
aspergers@40
#15
Jan15-10, 10:53 AM
P: 61
Quote Quote by drpaleo View Post
Even more amazing, New World monkeys appear to descend from African proto-monkeys that rafted accidentally about 35 million yrs ago.
This is new to me. Thanks for that, I'll do some googling and see what I can find. Incidentally, what do you make of the twice-size treetop pleistocene New World monkeys found in the longest cave in South America? Under Brazil
Andre
#16
Jan15-10, 01:04 PM
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Quote Quote by drpaleo View Post
Evo asked me to jump in here. Megafauna extinctions are staggered--basically tracking human arrivals (46,000 BP in Australia, 13,000 BP in the Americas, 6,000 BP in the Caribbean islands). Mammoths survived on the edges of Beringia into the Holocene--St. Paul Island off Alaska, Wrangel Island off Siberia. Their survival argues against climatic causation. The bolide theory of Firestone, West and Kennett is looking weak as new studies fail to replicate the microparticle concentrations at 12,900 BP that they reported.

I recommend Gary Haynes recent book of American megafaunal extinctions.
Thanks for joining in the discussion, drpaleo. Obviously the discussions about extinction is likely about twice as old as the average age of the members here. But maybe some general words. The original Martin hypothesis is about naive mega fauna, unafraid for newly arriving lethal human hunters, that caused their extinction in general. However some species were already in decline before the arrival of humans, for instance horses in Alaska Dale Guthrie 2003. There is also study to the size of Mammuthus primigenius on the Taimyr peninsula in nothernmost Siberia towards extinction probably 9000 radiocarbon years ago.

Furthermore it's interesting to see that several extinct species seem to have survived much longer after the Pleistocene Holocene boundary than originally assumed, there are several reports about young American mastodons Mammut Americanum, see this thread for instance. But also this and this.

Furthermore the megafauna had coexisted in Eurasia with humans for ten thousands years and could not have been that naive anymore, yet most appeared to die out at the onset of the Bolling interstadial some 12,000 radiocarbon years ago, the woolly rhino for instance. On the other hand not a lot of people seem to have witnessed the death of the last Eurasian continental woolly mammoth 9000 years ago, while the youngest fossil of the presently extinct giant Irish elk is dated 7700 radiocarbon years BP (Stuart et al 2004, Nature 431 /7009); both in Siberia.

Furthermore climate of islands like Wrangel island etc, is subject to other laws than the continental climate and there is still research on that.

Anyway, we don't know when a certain species died out, for the simple reason that we can never be sure that we found the remains of the last specimen. They may still be out there somewhere or they don't exist anymore anyway, because conservation of fossils is an exception whereas a full decompostion of the remains is normal, so surprises -like the American mastodon- are still to be expected
aspergers@40
#17
Jan16-10, 04:22 AM
P: 61
Quote Quote by drpaleo View Post
Several archaeological sites in Australia date to about 45-48,000 BP. Uranium-thorium dating of last representatives of Australian megafauna puts their extinction at ca. 46,000. Check out articles by Roberts et al., Gifford Miller et al. With lowered sea levels, maximum distance over water to Australia would have been ca. 50 miles. The watercraft used presumably would have been some sort of raft, not an oceangoing canoe. Amazingly, Homo erectus must have gotten to the island of Flores by rafting at ca. 800,000 BP (see research by Morland on this). Even more amazing, New World monkeys appear to descend from African proto-monkeys that rafted accidentally about 35 million yrs ago.
The cane and bamboo raft building would still require a significant technology innovation. I'm not convinced that early humans would have made sea crossings to lands beyond the horizon by raft, such as suggested for the colonisation of Australia 40,000 years ago. The crossing of the Wallace Line allows for visible land to be seen and so raft use is intuitive, but otherwise the peopling of Australia would have to have been by accident presumably? What do you think? If by accident, then these few survivors would have been very lucky to colonise the entire continent and bring about the extinction of the many megafauna in around 5000 years imo.
Andre
#18
Oct24-10, 06:58 AM
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The book is finally printed. I wrote a draft for a review.

While mindfully munching on a few flowering reed mace, the mastodon of the Auvergne mas mustered a curious phenomenon on the waterfront, his beloved habitat. It was a little boy with light blond hair wearing a gray-brown winter coat, because it was a bit chilly still.

But what is now anachronistic nonsense? How could the son of Tone Skelton get face to face with this prehistoric pachyderm of about two million years ago?Well, that scene came to pass out at Kralingse ponds/puddles/lakes at Rotterdam in May 2010. The boy was real; the mastodon was a brilliant life-like replica, painstakingly crafted by Remie Bakker. It was commissioned by the Museum in Le Puy-en-Velay, Haute-Loire, Auvergne and formed a part of a sort of trilogy, consisting of a thorough renovation of the museum as the first element, which included the exhibition of this new replica as hallmark showpiece. The museum was also at the core of the international conference "The World of Mammoths, the Vth International Conference on Mammoths and Their Relatives". As third element we have now a very impressive book about mammoths and mastodons of the Haute Loire, extinct trunk animals that thrived the European plains and forests once. Actually, there is also a single forest elephant mentioned but, that should probably be seen as a bonus.

Who is supposed to be interested in a book like this? One would rather expect the really experienced paleontologist between the dusty highly specialized literature studying the most minutely and detailed shaped descriptions of fossil remains and dimensions of the hundreds of thousands of fossil bones that once belonged to a forgotten fauna. At the other end of the scale, one would expect John Doe -should be interested in the nature history in the first place- watching the movies Ice Age II or reading the fiction of the primitive tribes of Jean Auel or so, which exciting adventures with cave bears and mammoths

However, this book bridges that gap. At the one hand the reader can take note of the scientifically detailed yet clear narrations about the importance of the dental elements for the determination of the species and their habitats. On the other hand the history of paleontology, especially on the rich with fossils blessed area of the Upper Loire and the story of spectacular new discoveries, almost reads like an exciting adventure.

One can easily recognize Dick Mol’s highly professional expertise fuelled with an endless boyish passion combined with the rare skill to convey his message with straightforward uncomplicated terminology, easily accessible to the layman. Also the stylish contribution of Frédéric Lacombat should definitely not remain unmentioned, as he enthralls the reader with picturesque depictions of the local Auvergne geography as well as the details of the unearthing of the many highly interesting sites..

The hardback is also enriched with an overwhelming amount of visual material. Photos of the experts in action, taken by Hans Wildschut, including the mastodon replica at the Kralingse puddles/ponds, albeit without that little boy avoiding the anachronism. Also many realistic sketches and prints of the Pleistocene animals of the Auvergne, outlined with great expertise by Remie Bakker. This shows that original French book has a strong Dutch imprint over it.
These illustrations allow the readers to looking over the shoulders of the experts. But a word of caution applies here. Beware, you can easily get intrigued about this amazing work and it will prove to be very tough to put the book away again. This can result in some physical strain as the book is definitely heavy, in its large format, hard cover and high quality paper.

Oh, if you want to know something about mastodons, you will google it on Internet, you say? An unfortunate misconception as I can say from personal experience, I had the honor to help Dick a bit with some translation work and some coordination with native English tongue test readers. And I often thought to be able to consult internet sources for the details. That proved to be a disappointment. The available information is not only scarce but often outdated, and usually simply wrong, because no one verifies the information.

All the more reasons why this book is an important bridge between the geological past, the living nature and habitats and the people of today. To learn from the natural history in order to properly manage our precious environmental heritage in a responsible way and that bridge is symbolized by the little boy and the mastodon.
Dutch version
here

One may recognize the picture:

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