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Re: Ain't No Mountain Low Enough [elephants don't like steep terrain]



At 04:40 2006-07-26, Dann Pigdon wrote:
This might have had implications for sauropods as well:

--

Ain't No Mountain Low Enough
By Briahna Gray
ScienceNOW Daily News
25 July 2006

In his attempt to conquer the western world in 218 B.C.E.,
Carthaginian general Hannibal famously lost all but one of his
elephants while crossing the Alps. A new study may explain why:
Elephants just don't dig climbing.

It may not be much of a surprise that elephants aren't mountaineers.
They weigh an average of 5000 kilograms, after all. And anecdotal
evidence suggests that the pachyderms avoid hills when they migrate.
So Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a geologist and chief executive of the Save
the Elephants charity based in Nairobi, Kenya, decided to spy on a
group of elephants in Northern Kenya. Over 2 years, Douglas-Hamilton
and colleagues tracked 60 elephants with global positioning technology.

By plotting the routes on topographical maps, they learned that the
pachyderms consistently avoided all slopes with inclines over 43
degrees...

More here:
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/725/2

Umm... I was once chased by an angry african elephant at about 11,000 feet on Mount Kenya, guess she didn't read Science. Seriously though, elephants may avoid steep slopes (I would too if i weighed a couple of tons), but they occur quite high on mountains like Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon.


Actually the question of high-altitude fossils is quite interesting. The often heard claim that fossil only occur in lowlands is certainly quite wrong. If you look at Pleistocene fossils (my specialty) they are if anything more common in uplands (I have statistics to prove it). However fossils normally don't *last* long in mountains. I'm not sure that there are any bonafide high-altitude fossil sites older than the Pliocene, though there might be some in the Rockies (Florissant?).
The best chance to find *really* old high altitude fossils would be to search in areas that were once tectonically high but have since come down to a lower altitudee, i e areas near incipient rift valleys and on top of hotspots. When East Africa finally sails away from the rest of Africa those highlands in Kenya and Ethiopia are going to come back down, and it is possible that some sediments here and there will survive the trip.
Have anybody seriously considered how high the triassic basins in the northeastern US originally were? Or the intertrappan beds in India (think Yellowstone)?
Another idea: has anybody ever prospected that odd bit of paleosurface that is perched on top of the Medicine Bows? A mid-Tertiary fissure-fill up there seems distinctly possible.


Tommy Tyrberg