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Survival of the Irish elk into the Holocene

Giant deer on the Isle of Man around 9,000 years ago may have been the last of the line.


The giant deer Megaloceros giganteus was a celebrated victim of the Late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, the timing and causes of which are hotly debated1. Until now, it was believed that the giant deer's demise occurred during the Late Glacial (about 10,600 years ago), before the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary. Here we report new radiocarbon dates from two specimens in stratified contexts, which indicate that a giant deer population still existed around the northern Irish Sea Basin in the early Holocene — 1,400 years after their supposed extinction.

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Figure 1: Localities and size comparison of Megaloceros giganteus specimens.


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Correspondence to Adrian M. Lister.

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Gonzalez, S., Kitchener, A. & Lister, A. Survival of the Irish elk into the Holocene. Nature 405, 753–754 (2000).

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