Dec 07

The Irish elk: Hunted down for its antlers??

Animals have always lived at the mercy of man. The Irish Elk Deer, though being classified as one of the largest deer that ever lived, is one such animal. At one point of time it was said to have inhabited large tracts of land across Eurasia right from Ireland to Asia and Africa. It is supposed to have become extinct as back as 7700 years. It was supposed to be of a formidable size and had extremely huge antlers. Compared to its height of about 2 meters the antlers were more than 3.6 meters long. The antlers itself used to weigh about 90 pounds.

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Fossils discovered in the seventeenth and eighteenth century pointed out to huge animals which were not currently found on earth at that time. On carbon dating, it was found out that these animals existed more than 7700 years ago i.e around the year 5700 B.C. It is still not clear as to what caused their extinction. Studies revealed that the antlers which were abnormally large for an animal of this size might have been the cause of its extinction. There have been theories that man had hunted down this magnificent animal for its antlers. Both the theories have not been substantiated by facts though the latter one seems plausible enough.

Initially on examination of the fossils it was supposed that this animal resembled the moose and was also believed to have been identical to the reindeer. However tests have shown that the resemblance ends with the appearance alone. These fossils were of a separate species of animals which was later on named as The Irish Deer or the Great Elk. This was discovered by French scientist Georges Cuvier. His study of the Irish Elk Deer proved to be the changing point in the history of study of evolution.