On The Extinction Of The Giant Irish Deer

Evolution is a fascinating branch of science — not least because the fossil records show that the Earth has, at various times, been home to some amazing creatures.

One such now-extinct species is the giant Irish deer, which suddenly became extinct 10,600 years ago.  It was an enormous animal.  As the attached chart indicates, it was much taller than a modern human, with a massive set of antlers.  Since the first fossils were found in the early 1800s, the giant Irish deer has been the subject of significant interest, with some in that era concluding that it must have died off in the Biblical flood, others speculating that the animals were hunted to extinction, and still others arguing that their massive antlers must have somehow done them in.

Scientists have now conducted tests and determined that the Irish deer died off due to climate change.  Various aspects of the teeth of the animals indicate that the temperature was dropping at the time of their extinction, and the habitat in Ireland therefore changed from being heavily forested to being more tundra-like.  As a result, less vegetation was growing — and these massive creatures clearly needed lots of plants for nourishment.

Imagine, if you will, going back in time to the heavily wooded island now known as Ireland 12,000 years ago, walking through the primordial forest, hearing a sound, and turning to see one of these titanic creatures, towering above your head, with antlers sweeping 12 feet across.   It must have been a magnificent sight.

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