Fossilized footprints reveal prehistoric elephant nursery

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Whole-digit preservation footprint of an elephant calf at Matalacañas Trampled Surface, SW Spain. They are proof of the straight-tusked elephant, the final proboscidean roaming by the southernmost Europe mainland. Credit: Neto de Carvalho et al.

Fossilized footprint tracks from the Matalascañas Trampled Surface in Huelva, south west Spain recommend that the realm was utilized by straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) to lift new child offspring through the Late Pleistocene (129,000 to 11,700 years in the past), in line with a examine published in Scientific Reports.


Carlos Neto de Carvalho and colleagues analyzed 34 units of footprint tracks. Based on the rounded-elliptical form of the prints and different standards, the authors attributed the tracks to straight-tusked elephants, that are carefully associated to African forest elephants alive at present. To decide the age of particular person elephants, the authors calculated shoulder top and body mass primarily based on footprint size.

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The authors recognized footprints of 14 calves, which they estimate as having been between newborns and two years of age. Their physique mass was estimated to have been between 70 and 200kg. The authors additionally categorized tracks from eight juveniles (two to seven years outdated) and 6 adolescents (eight to fifteen years outdated). The excessive frequency of younger elephants could point out that the realm, which as soon as had an interdune pond, was a reproductive website for elephant herds, with the encircling vegetation offering a food source for younger elephants unable to journey lengthy distances to different meals sources.

The authors additionally recognized grownup tracks probably made by three adult females (over 15 years) primarily based on the tracks’ close proximity to these of younger calf footprints. Only two tracks have been recognized as having been made by males, with a lot bigger footprints (over 50cm in size) and estimated physique lots of over seven tonnes.

Fossilized footprints reveal prehistoric elephant nursery
The first hominin trackway attributed to a Neanderthal grownup discovered within the Matalascañas Trampled Surface. The space was focused for potential recreation (see the massive well-preserved deer monitor within the backside of the picture) and new child elephants recognized to be a part of the Neanderthal menu. Credit: Neto de Carvalho et al.

The authors conclude that the Matalascañas Trampled Surface in Huelva was doubtless a wealthy reproductive habitat for feminine elephants to lift their younger and was visited hardly ever by male people.


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More data:
Carlos Neto de Carvalho et al, First tracks of new child straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon antiquus), Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-96754-1 , www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-96754-1

Citation:
Fossilized footprints reveal prehistoric elephant nursery (2021, September 16)
retrieved 18 September 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-fossilized-footprints-reveal-prehistoric-elephant.html

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