Scientists at the University of Oviedo (UO) and the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) have revealed that although in small numbers, the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros and the reindeer already lived in the Iberian Peninsula 150,000 years ago.
Their presence has been linked to the paleoclimatic scale created on the basis of the isotopic composition of oxygen in the ice of Greenland. “The findings of cold climate fauna in the Iberian Peninsula coincide with the periods of greatest global cooling recorded in the ice of Greenland”, Diego Alvarez-Lao.
Mr. Alvarez-Lao explained that the migration occurred owing to the extreme environmental conditions in central and northern Europe. However, towards the end of glaciation, the climate became warmer in the whole northern hemisphere.
“The increase in temperatures caused a genuine biological crisis for these animals from extremely cold climates. Some species such as the reindeer and the arctic fox found their new habitat in the arctic regions of the planet, where they still survive today. Others, such as the woolly mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros weren’t so lucky”, specified the palaeontologist. What’s more, these species seemed to have lived alongside humans.
“These species lived alongside different human cultures. There is evidence in some sites of the Basque country, Navarra and Catalonia that the Neanderthals coexisted with the mammoths and the reindeer at specific times,” states Alvarez-Lao. The study has been published in the journal Quaternary International.