Thursday, April 05, 2012

MEGALOCEROS (“Irish Elk”): Misunderstandings

From Wikipedia: Megaloceros Species
 A giant amongst Deer, Megaloceros stood twelve feet (3.5 meters) high with a rack of antlers which were 6.6. feet (two meters).  This Giant Deer was well-known for his antlers, which was shaped like two outstretched human palms.  Also, his former name of “Irish Elk” was derived from the many bones of his that were first found in Irish bogs.  Starting with the name of “Irish Elk”, Megaloceros has been the subject of many erroneous ideas.  In spite of being known as “Irish Elk”, He roamed throughout Eurasia from Ireland to Siberia.  Furthermore, Megaloceros was not an Elk but a relative of Fallow Deer.
            In addition, the giant antlers of Megaloceros were believed to be the cause of his downfall.  They were thought to grow so large that eventually He could not hold his head up.  Moreover, these antlers would then become entangled in tree branches.  However like all Deer, Megaloceros shed his antlers every year, and then later grew them back for the rutting season.  Furthermore, his antlers were the proper ratio to his body.  Since Megaloceros was the largest Deer ever, his antlers would be large as well.
            Another misunderstanding about Megaloceros is how and when He became extinct.  Since paintings of Him were found on cave walls, many paleontologists believed that overhunting caused his eventual extinction.  Because of this, Megaloceros was believed to not have survived the last Ice Age.
            None of these theories are true.  Fossils of Megaloceros found in the U.K. and Russia proved that He survived until late as 5,000 B.C.E.  What is believed to bring about his demise was climate change and human farmers.  As they cleared the land, the farmers destroyed Megaloceros’ habitat, and at the same time the climate was becoming drier.  The demise of Megaloceros demonstrates that the extinction of many Megafauna of prehistory was more complex than originally thought. 
Throughout the years, Megaloceros has been the subject of many wacky theories.  When his bones were first found in the 17th Century, people at that time could not conceive of any sort of extinction, and believed that He lived elsewhere.  Only in the early 19th Century, did naturalists finally realize that He was gone.  By then, the theories of his antlers spelling Megaloceros’ doom became popular.
            Megaloceros guides us through the fog of ignorance to finally obtaining a clear view of knowledge.  At first, we may have silly ideas and misunderstandings about various things, but we can look to Megaloceros for direction.  He stands tall against spreading misinformation.  Follow Him through the forest of ignorance to the pool of wisdom.

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