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Re: Mammoth Reference



Hello Dinophiles

 For all those who were interested in the recent side track, I have a new
reference for Mammoths and their kin:  "Mammoths" by Adrian Lister and
Paul Bahn (Foward by Jean M Auel), 1994, MacMillan.  I believe there is some
new material here but if you've had enough of swimming Mammoths, why
scroll on thru.

Looks like a pretty comprehensive  overview of what is known about
Mammoths, and among other things it says that Dwarf Mammoths evolved
independently on at least three far flung islands:  Wrangel Island in the
Arctic Ocean NE Siberia, Malta/Sicily  in the Medeteranian, and the
California Channel Islands.  In each case these Mammoths were evolved from
normal sized animals from the adjacent mainland.

On Wrangel Island, Mammoths may have survived longer than anywhere else
on earth.  Radio Carbon dating indicates that Wrangel Island dwarfs lived
there between 7000 and 3700 years ago, whereas normal sized Mammoth
bones also found on Wrangel were dated at 12,000 years ago when Wrangel
was still connected to the mainland.   By 7000 years ago the population was
fully dwarfed, suggesting that the evolutionary process had taken about
5000 years or 500 generations. The book also states that this represents
one of the shortist evolutionary transitions found in the fossil record.

 Wrangel Island Mammoths walked to their new home and were isolated there
by the rising waters.  But the California Channel Island Mammoths most
certainly swam to their Island home.  San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa
Cruz Islands were probably one Big Island during the Ice Age but still 20
some odd miles from the mainland across a very deep channel.  Remains of
about 50 dwarf animals have been found as well as some bones of larger
individuals.   It is uncertain if the larger bones represent stages in the
dwarfing process, or perhaps successive waves of immigration.

This makes sense to me as I have had the good fortune to cruise the
California Coast many times over the years, (usually in a shoebox Chevy).  I
know that most of the time the Channel Islands are not visible from the
mainland.   But every once in a while we have one of those perfect days,
usually after a storm when the air is cold and crystal clear, what I like
to call
"A Fine Pleistocene Day".  Suddenly, under these conditions the Channel
Islands loom large and magnificant as if a new mountain range grew up over
night.  Don't know if Mammoths were nearsighted or not, but I'll bet they
could see these Islands or at least smell the Islands, and were not just
swimming out to sea in an aimless search for green leaves as someone has
suggested.  Nor is it likely that that the Channel Island Mammoth
population is decended from a single female, pregnant with twins who
collapsed and died on the beach after giving birth to  Adam & Eve
Mammothetts.  It is more likely that the crossings were made by extended
family groups, the way that modern elephants migrate across terrestrial
obstacles such as deserts.  It is likely that many crossings were made by
many families over many years, and It is also likely that some  died in the
attempt due to the many perils already discussed.  But it is obvious that
enough survived to create a viable population of Big Mammoths that could
then evolve into the Dwarfs.   A fundemental rule of evolution here:  No
Population, No Evolution.  The list below that someone set forth (sorry I lost
track of who posted this originally) . . . Looks to me like half of David
Letterman's Top Ten Timid Reasons Why Mammoths Couldn't Migrate To
Islands:

> 1)To far to swim  (26 miles)
>2)Ocean Currents and maritime weather
>3)Sharks and Orcas who's feeding frenzies would take out the entire
>>lumbering lot
>4)Very low survival assuming any reached at all
>5)Inevitable interbreeding leading to genetic mutation, sterility and
>extinction!

Bill Hunt - Hunt Studios -  Wildlife - Paleo Wildlife
Bronze - Stained Glass - Metal Sculpture
2780 Chaparral Ln  -  Paso Robles,  CA  -  93446
E-mail:  bhunt@fix.net
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"I think I'm developing a headache.  I can only contemplate the infinite for a
finite period of time!"