Sunday, June 24, 2012


There was an exhibition of these life-size replicas of the animals of Ice Age in Curitiba. It was really very interesting to know their history and origin. I am sharing with you all. Some of you might be interested to read it.


New Zealand.
Period: 17th century
Size : Height 3.6 - 3.9 meters, Weight 230 - 280 kgs

This tallest flightless bird that ever lived appeared in several species only in New Zealand. Like other modern flightless runners, Moa has a paleognathous skull type. In comparison to the rest of the body, the head is small, with a wide, curved beak and small eyes and rests on a long neck. The shoulder height of adult moa birds reached 1.5 - 2 meters and about one half of its entire height. The body misses any signs of wings.The bones of the forelegs are fully reduced. The Moa laid one or two eggs at a time. The eggs were about 24 cms. long, 18 cms wide in diameter and the volume of its contents was approximately equal to 80 chicken eggs. Based on DNA studies, it was found that female birds were about 1.5 times taller and 2.8 times heavier than the males.


Europe, Asia, North America
Period: Some suggestions point to survival untilapproximately 2,000 AD
Size: First form of sub species reached shoulder height of about 4.3 meters. Later forms were slightly smaller, but still much larger than the modern African elephant. (max. height around 3.3 meters)

Mammoths were large animals adapted to life in Tundra, Steppes and on the outskirts of Taiga. Their body structure was similar to modern elephants but with large and taller heads, with bulge on top of it - the tallest part of the mammoth's body. Over 4 meters long tusks were pointed towards each otherand were pointed towards each other and were used as snow plough. Mammoths had long blakish brown even reddish fur to protect them from cold climate. Length of their hair reached from 20 to 60 cms. Like modern elephants, mammoths also lived in herds. Based on plants found in their teeth and stomachs, mammoths grazed on grass vegetation of Arctic Steppes.


European & Asian Steppes ( from Ireland to Lake Baikal)
Period: 400,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Size: 2 - 2.1 meter shoulder height... Weight: 300 - 500 kilograms

Large cloven hoofed deer was characterized by its great shovel-like antlers. The span of antlers reached upto 3.6 meters; their weight upto 40 kilograms. It's size matches that of a Moose, however its morphology relates to Giant Deer - more to Bucks and Fallow-Deer. The large antlers requires substantial amount of minerals, especially calcium phosphate, which at the time of growth could have led to states similar to Osteoporosis. Due to its monumental antlers, Megaloceros could have inhabited only Steppes - wooded areas represented great danger and basically an impassable territory.


Europe & Asia
Period: 700,000 to 10,000 years ago
Size : 1.7 - 1.8 meters shoulder height .... Length : 1.7 - 1.8 meters
Weight: 1.5 to 2 tons

The wooly rhinoceros was well adapted to the extreme environment. The long reddish-brown fur was an excellent protection from the cold. Molars and high frilled crowns allowed the wooly rhinoceros to feed on the tough grasses and sedges of the Tundra Steppes. Two horns, flat from the side, which grew out of its skullwere of Keratin, the same material of claws. The ante-rior horn was upto 1 meter long. The horns were not only used for defensive purposes, attracting mates but also to sweep the snow away from the vegetation. Although not closely related, its body and head morphology are reminisent of the modern white rhinoceros. The wooly rhinoceros is a faithful companion of the Mammoth. There is a large probability of finding them at a mammoth finding site. The only place the wooly rhinoceros was not found together with Mammoths is North America. For reasons unknown, they were unable to cross the Bering Strait. The most eastern finds are in China.

ELASMOTHERIUM (one-horned rhinocerous)

Europe, South-Eastern Russia, China
Period: The first species appeared approx. 2 million years ago.
The largest species, E.Sibiricum-appears around 500,000 years ago
The species dies around 10,000 years ago.
Size : 2 to 2.2 meters shoulder height - Body length 5-6 meters
Weight upto 5 tons

The Elasmotherium was a speciesof a giant rhinoceros. Despite its size, the body was quite agile.A single Keratin horn based across most of the facial part of the skull, reached upto 2 meters in length. The second significant attribute of the Elasmotherium is its unique dentition, distinguished by an extremely high frilly crown found in other rhinoceroces and even more importantly- by the absence of molar roots, allowing for constant growth of teeth. This caused the constant need for a highly abrasive diet.

GLYPTODONT (Armadillo)

South, Central, North America
Period: First Glyptodonts appeared in the lower Eocene - 40 million years ago. The last ones died 10,000 tears ago.
Size : Length - 2.5 to 3.5 meters Height : - 1.2 to 1.5 meters
Weight - upto 2 Tons.

Glyptodonts, like their armadillo relatives, had a fairly easy life style with a wide range of diet. Their teeth, like in other edentates (toothless mammals such as ant-eaters and sloths) were globe like...persistently growing, lacked enamel and were formed by a special two layer dentine. The grinding teeth were upto 20 cms long and 4-5 cms wide, and grew in the shape of 3 connected coloumns in sets of six in each jaw. Thw whole dental set functioned as a highly effective mill for vegetable diet. Glyptodont's feet, similar to those of a sloth had strong claws. The body was covered with mosaic of thousands of inch-thick bony plates called Osteoderms. These plates also covered the top of the head and created kind of skull guard. Even the tail was guarded this way in some species. The nasal part of the skull suggests a possibility of the exixtence of a small trunk as in Tapirs.

MEGATHERIUM (Ground Sloth)

South America, closely related genus also in Central and North Americas.
Period: 2 million to 8,000 years ago
Size:  Length .. 5 - 6 Meters   Weight ... 2 - 3 tons

The ground sloths were edentates ( mammals known as toothless) of different sizes. The largestt ones were approximately the size of an elephant. The size was reflected in the robust skeleton, extrememly large pelvic girdle and strong muscular tail.All limbs had five long and massive flexed claws. The foot morphology suggests that these animals treaded on the foot's outer edge. Megatherium was able to stand on its hind legs, supporting itself with the tail and grab branches with relatively long forelegs. Dentition was characterized by a high crown with two lateral crests with cutting outer edge. This feature suggests a cutting rather than crushing function.
      The Megatherium was one of the first mammals to advance to North America. Some Megatherium related genea made it all he way to Alaska.

AUROCHS ( Wild Cattle )

Originally Asia, later Europe and North America.
Period: First appeared in Europe around 25,000 years ago.
Size:  Body length .. 2.6  -  3.1 meters  
          Shoulder height .. 180 cms.
          Weight ... 800 - 1000 kgs Bulls , 1/4 less Cows

Aurochs had black and brown fur with white snout and a light stripe along the spine. Long and thin horns turning upwards were typical for Aurochs. Sexual dimorphism, especially of the horns, was prominent. Wild cattle were social creatures, living in family herds, while the elder ones led a life in solitude. Aurochs were generally forest animals, feeding on grass, herbs, acorn and fallen leaves. Wild cattle were domesticated approximately 8,000 years ago. Aurochs died out first in India, gradually population more to the west disappeared. The last exemplars were noted in the Lake Mazur area in Poland during 17th century. The last individual was hunted down in 1627. Attempts at breeding back the Aurochs from the species assumed to be closest to them ( Highland Cattle, Hungarian Grey Cattle, French and Spanish Arena Cattle) are taking place now.