Old Bones Give New Date for Giant Deer Demise|Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|10/07/04 at 21:26:53|richard_f|xx|0||Old Bones Give New Date for Giant Deer Demise

Wed Oct 6, 2:12 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Many large mammals were wiped out in the last Ice Age but the Eurasian giant deer managed to survive, scientists said on Wednesday.

Unlike saber-toothed tigers, mastodons and woolly mammoths, which are thought to have become extinct about 10,000 years ago, the giant deer lived on in the Ural mountains another 3,000 years, according to scientists at University College London (UCL).

"Although we can now bring the extinction date forward by 3,000 years or so, we still can't tell what actually killed off these beasts," said Professor Adrian Lister, who reported the findings in the science journal Nature.

"Man could have been the ultimate destroyer, but climate change might also have been the culprit. This is a mystery we have yet to solve."

Lister and his team collected, examined bones and used radiocarbon data to show that giant Eurasian deer, which had antlers that weighed 40 kg (88 pounds) and spanned 3.5 yards, lived longer than scientists had previously thought.

"A double-whammy of intense cold spells around 20,000 and 10,500 years ago had already taken their toll on these striking beasts. The last of the giant deer, squeezed out of Europe, seem to have taken refuge in the southern Ural Mountains near the Black Sea," Lister added in a statement.

In a commentary on the research, John Pastor and Ron Moen, of the University of Minnesota in Duluth, said the research showed the giant deer were widespread in Europe.

"The European population made a last stand in the British Isles before dying out 10,500 years ago, but the Siberian population persisted for another 3,000 years," they said.