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Re: Swimming mammoths and climate change



>>A more recent NOVA? showed a similar trent towards
>>pygyism by American mammoths (or was it mastadons?) escaping the
>>ecological disaster on the mainland and migrating to Catalina Island
>>of of California! Unfortunately with the latter, I have a problem with
>>the researchers notion that large mammoths could have swam the several
>>miles of Pacific ocean to reach the island. There must have been a
>>land bridge IMHO.
>
>Actually, this can be easily refuted.  I don't have the author's name on me,
>but in a paper in the Journal of Biogeography in their early years, an
>ecologist cited and document the very good swimming ability of elephantids.
>(Part of their tethythere heritage?).  Indian elephants habitually swim off
>the mainland to islands several kilometers out to sea in search of food.

Since this is in my backyard, I thought I'd throw in my $0.02.  A friend of
mine (Dr. Bob Gray) has excavated pygmy mammoth material on the Santa Barbara
Channel Islands, and occasionally lectures about them.  Most of the remains
have been found in dune deposits on Santa Rosa Island (I don't recall any from
Catalina, but it certainly may be true).   Material was first collected in
the '50s the Dr. Phil Orr, much of which has never been prepared.  Studies
of the sea level during the pleistocene indicate that the width of the channel
was less than at present, but never less than about 12 miles.  Dr. Holtz is
correct about modern elephants.  Confirmed reports have shown modern elephants
swimming distances of up to 60 miles.  Their trunks apparently make very good
"snorkels".  Dr. Larry Agenbrod (sp?) is currently on sabbatical, working at
the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, studying the material collected
over the last 40 years (including the nearly complete specimen he excavated
about a year ago).

Art Berggreen
art@acc.com