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Big Cat Species face the Same Challenges as their Ancestors that went extinct towards the end of the last Ice Age: Study

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London, May 11, 2017: Big cat species, especially African lion and Sunda clouded leopard, face the same challenges as their ancestors that went extinct towards the end of the last Ice Age, a new study says.

The team researched the cause of extinction of seven large cats from the Ice Age including four different types of sabre-toothed cats.

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The seven big cats that went extinct during that period are those which lost the greatest proportion of their prey, showed the study published in the journal Ecography.

Using a new global database of felid diets called FelidDiet, the researchers assessed whether Ice Age extinction trends could be applied to populations of big cat species now.

They discovered that if all the currently threatened and declining prey species within big cat natural ranges were to go extinct, only 39 percent of the African lion’s prey and 37 percent of Sunda clouded leopard’s would remain.

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The researchers believe that if this prey loss trend continued, this would pose a high risk of extinction to these two big cat species in particular.

Prey decline puts tiger, leopard and cheetah at risk too, the researchers said.

“If primary big cat prey continues to decline at such a rate, then big cats, including lion, Sunda clouded leopard, tiger and cheetah, are at high risk of extinction,” said Chris Sandom from the University of Sussex in Britain.

“The Churchillian aphorism that those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it was painfully in mind when we saw how many of the prey of lions and in East Africa and of clouded leopards in Indo-Malaya look set to go down the same drain which their counterparts in other regions have already been flushed,” said Professor David Macdonald, Director of the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.

“We need to buck this Ice Age trend once and for all and to reinforce the urgent need for governments to protect both big cat species and their prey,” Sandom added. (IANS)

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Ancient Human Remains, Ice Age Animal Bones Found in Giant Mexican Cave

The Pleistocene geological epoch, the most recent Ice Age, began 2.6 million years ago and ended around 11,700 years ago

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Researchers found 9000 years old remains in the flooded Mexican Cave. Wikimedia Commons
Researchers found 9000 years old remains in the flooded Mexican Cave. Wikimedia Commons
  • Archaeologists found ancient human remains in Mexico
  • The remains were found in a flooded cave in Mexico
  • Archaeologists also found bones of ancient animals

Archaeologists exploring the world’s biggest flooded cave in Mexico have discovered ancient human remains at least 9,000 years old and the bones of animals who roamed the Earth during the last Ice Age.

A group of divers recently connected two underwater caverns in eastern Mexico to reveal what is believed to be the biggest flooded cave on the planet, a discovery that could help shed new light on the ancient Maya civilization.

Ice age animal remains found in flooded Mexican cave. Wikimedia Commons
Ice age animal remains found in a flooded Mexican cave. Wikimedia Commons

The Yucatan peninsula is studded with monumental relics of the Maya people, whose cities drew upon an extensive network of sinkholes linked to subterranean waters known as cenotes.

Researchers say they found 248 cenotes at the 347-km (216-mile) cave system known as Sac Actun, near the beach resort of Tulum. Of the 200 archaeological sites, they have discovered there, around 140 are Mayan.

Some cenotes acquired particular religious significance to the Maya, whose descendants continue to inhabit the region.

Also Read: Ancient Caves, Ice Age Art and Bauhaus buildings in Germany to be considered for World Heritage Site by UNESCO

Apart from human remains, they also found bones of giant sloths, ancient elephants and extinct bears from the Pleistocene period, Mexico’s Culture Ministry said in a statement.

The cave’s discovery has rocked the archaeological world.

“I think it’s overwhelming. Without a doubt it’s the most important underwater archaeological site in the world,” said Guillermo de Anda, a researcher at Mexico’s National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH)

Human remains along with ice age animals' bones found in a flooded Mexican Cave.
Human remains along with ice age animals’ bones found in a flooded Mexican Cave.

De Anda is also director of the Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM), a project dedicated to the study and preservation of the subterranean waters of the Yucatan peninsula.

Also Read: Oceans may be responsible for making Earth move in and out of Ice Ages every 100,000 years: Study

According to the INAH, water levels rose 100 meters at the end of the Ice Age, flooding the cave system and leading to “ideal conditions for the preservation of the remains of extinct megafauna from the Pleistocene.”

The Pleistocene geological epoch, the most recent Ice Age, began 2.6 million years ago and ended around 11,700 years ago. VOA