Scientists determined the time of extinction of ancient porcupines

Related Articles

A team of specialists that included scientists from Siberia, the Urals, and the University of Arizona, USA, conducted radiocarbon dating of the teeth and bones of ancient porcupines found in the caves of Gorny Altai and the Urals. They established that these thermophilic animals lived in these territories up to 30,000 – 40,000 years ago and died out with the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum.

There have been no similar publications based on Russian material, — says Yaroslav Kuzmin, one of the authors of the article, a leading researcher at TSU, the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the SB RAS, and associate faculty member of the University of Arizona. — The reason is that the finds of porcupines in Siberia are extremely rare. The samples with which we worked were discovered by the famous Siberian paleontologist Nikolai Ovodov in the 1980s in the Altai (Razboynichya Cave). Later, in the 1990s and early 2000s, bones and teeth that were preserved in several caves of Altai and the Urals were added to them.

All this time, the age of ancient porcupines remained unknown, because the method of dating available to scientists required a large quantity of material for analysis.

 

This method was not suitable for us, — says Yaroslav Kuzmin. — First, in this case, material invaluable from the point of view of history will be completely lost in the course of dating. Second, the maximum size of the remains of animals found was only a few centimeters, so we simply did not have enough materials for analysis. Unique finds were preserved only because they were lying in caves of limestone, often at a temperature of about zero degrees, that is, they were not exposed to such destructive factors as heat, wind, and rain.

Therefore, we were only now able to reconstruct the past and establish the age of ancient mammals. This happened thanks to the close scientific collaboration of scientists from Russia and the US. The University of Arizona conducted a direct radiocarbon dating of porcupine bones and teeth with an accelerator mass spectrometer. This method requires a minimum amount of material (less than the fingernail of the little finger) but is an accurate way to determine the geological age.

The results of the study showed that the fossils of porcupines living in the area of the modern Urals are more than 40,000 years old. Their Siberian relatives were significantly younger, from about 30,000 – 40,000 years ago. In the area that is now Russia, porcupines lived during an interstadial period, between two glacial maxima. According to the authors of the article, about 27,000 years ago the cooling began, which changed the situation in the Altai Mountains: forests decreased, the temperature and precipitation decreased, and the area occupied by grasses and bushes and the like increased. The conditions became unsuitable for the habitation of thermophilic mammals, and as a result at this time the porcupines permanently disappeared from the region.

More information about the results of the research can be found in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

NATIONAL RESEARCH TOMSK STATE UNIVERSITY

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Roman Villa of Tiberius and the Cave of Imperial Pleasure

The Villa of Tiberius is a ruined Roman villa complex located in the present-day town of Sperlonga, in the province of Latina on the western coast of Italy.

Archaeologists Excavate 1,600-Year-Old Burial Containing Ornate Treasures

Archaeologists excavating a burial ground have discovered a grave containing ornate grave goods from the 5th century AD, a period of instability during the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

Archaeologists Discover Ancient Settlements Associated With “Polish Pyramids”

Archaeologists conducting a detailed study of the area near the Kujawy megalithic tombs, dubbed the “Polish Pyramids”, have identified the associated settlements of the tomb builders.

Rocky Planet Discovered in Virgo Constellation Could Change Search For Life in Universe

A newly discovered planet could be our best chance yet of studying rocky planet atmospheres outside the solar system, a new international study involving UNSW Sydney shows.

Sungbo’s Eredo – The “Queen of Sheba’s Embankment”

Sungbo’s Eredo is one of the largest man-made monuments in Africa, consisting of a giant system of ditches and embankments that surrounds the entire ljebu Kingdom in the rain forests of south-western Nigeria.

Woolly Mammoths May Have Shared the Landscape With First Humans in New England

Woolly mammoths may have walked the landscape at the same time as the earliest humans in what is now New England, according to a Dartmouth study published in Boreas.

Prehistoric killing machine exposed

Judging by its massive, bone-crushing teeth, gigantic skull and powerful jaw, there is no doubt that the Anteosaurus, a premammalian reptile that roamed the African continent 265 to 260 million years ago - during a period known as the middle Permian - was a ferocious carnivore.

Noushabad – The Hidden Underground City

Noushabed, also called Oeei or Ouyim is an ancient subterranean city, built beneath the small town of Nushabad in present-day Iran.

Popular stories

Noushabad – The Hidden Underground City

Noushabed, also called Oeei or Ouyim is an ancient subterranean city, built beneath the small town of Nushabad in present-day Iran.

Ani – The Abandoned Medieval City

Ani is a ruined medieval city, and the former capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom, located in the Eastern Anatolia region of the Kars province in present-day Turkey.

Interactive Map of Earth’s Asteroid and Meteor Impact Craters

Across the history of our planet, around 190 terrestrial impact craters have been identified that still survive the Earth’s geological processes, with the most recent event occurring in 1947 at the Sikhote-Alin Mountains of south-eastern Russia.

The Sunken Town of Pavlopetri

Pavlopetri, also called Paulopetri, is a submerged ancient town, located between the islet of Pavlopetri and the Pounta coast of Laconia, on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece.