Amid all the warnings about the threat to animals from destructive humans, there is some rare good news.
The number of mammal species in Britain is actually higher today, compared to prehistoric times.
While we have lost the great spirits that roamed the ancient forests, the native bears and wolves, we have gained all kinds of mammals, from the edible lilies the Romans ate, to the amazing rabbits and sheep of the Mouflon.
In fact, while Britain had 50 different species of mammals 8000 years ago, when humans were hunters and gatherers, it now has at least 58 species.
The American mink (pictured) and Siberian chipmunks are invasive species that have escaped into the countryside
Mammals lost and gained
New Mammal Species Acquired in the Past 8,000 Years:
- Edible dormouse
- red-necked wallaby
- common mouse
- house mouse
- American mink
- european rabbit
- Mutton mouflon
- black rat
- brown rat
- gray squirrel
- Siberian squirrel
- sika deer
- bourgeois deer
- Chinese water deer
- deer resort
Lost Mammal Species:
- Gray Wolf
- brown bear
- European beaver
- Eurasian lynx
- European deer (moose)
- Larger eared bat (in high risk of extinction, with only a few individuals remaining)
Researchers at the University of York studied animal bones found in Britain 8,000 years ago, and found that seven had been lost, including lynxes and moose.
But as of 2020, we’ve acquired 15 mammal species, including four species of deer likely brought here for hunting, and the red-necked wallaby, which were established in Scotland after escaping from private collections and zoos in the last century.
While some new species, like mice and gray squirrels, may be less welcoming, the results show a wide range of furry creatures on this island, from hedgehogs and badgers to grazing cows.
Dr Jack Hatfield, who led the study from the University of York’s Leverholm Center for Anthropocene Biodiversity, said: ‘It’s somewhat unexpected that we actually have more species of mammals now than in prehistoric times.
As we realize with beavers, we have the ability to increase the number, by bringing back some extinct species, and this has been discussed for wolves and lynx, so our mammal population can increase.
“However, we may not see the return of large predators such as bears, as many people see them as dangerous, based on incidents from other countries, and much of Britain is covered in livestock such as cattle and sheep.”
The study, which looked across all of Europe, including Britain, found that while some island mammals are now extinct, only two mainland japa species 8,000 years ago have been permanently lost globally – the archaic and European wild ass.
Knepp Ranch in West Sussex, a former ranch-turned-rebuild project, is trying to replace the hardy oxen that ate plants in the winter, when grass was scarce, and survived outside all year, with longhorn cattle of the same species. role in the environment.
The bison was reintroduced to the UK this year, in Kent, after thousands of years of absence, but these have not been around for 8000 years, so they are not included in the number of animals we have acquired.
The researchers also do not include beavers because although they are beavers that live in the wild being brought back to parts of Scotland and Devon, their populations have not yet been established.
It also does not include wild boars – animals with long tusks that were hunted to extinction in the UK several centuries ago and that escaped from farms to recolonize some areas from which they had disappeared, but are not considered resettlement, as they have been here 8000 years ago.
However, the researchers’ tally does include species that are relatively new to the UK including the productaic, sika, patio and Chinese water deer.
Map of species richness, genetic diversity, and functional diversity for each region. Left: Estimated values 8000 years ago, second from left: losses, second from right: gains, right: general change
We have also acquired Siberian chipmunks, which are very similar to squirrels, but with distinctive brown and white stripes running from nose to tail.
The invasive species, which is thought to have entered the countryside after the pets escaped, competes with the local red squirrels.
Other invaders introduced to Britain include the American mink, which has escaped from fur farms and threatens water rats and seabirds, as well as black and brown rats.
Edible dice, a favorite delicacy of the Romans, is believed to have been launched in Britain in 1902.
The study compared 2020 data from archaeological records, when there were only an estimated five million people on the planet and early agriculture was spreading across Europe, because recently the climate has become more stable, making it easier to distinguish between man-made influences on species and Changes that occur naturally.
Species such as the woolly rhinoceros and mammoths disappeared already at the end of the last Ice Age.
Dr Hatfield, whose study was published in the journal Global Change Biology, said: “Although our study does not look at gains and losses in animal populations within a species, it does provide a promising vision for the future.
“The vast majority of mammals in Europe still exist, and if promises to give more land to nature are kept, levels of biodiversity could increase beyond the levels seen by our ancestors.”
Baby Moms Explained: These Giant Mammals roamed the Earth during the Pleistocene 10,000 years ago
The woolly mammoth roamed the icy tundra of Europe and North America for 140,000 years, and disappeared at the end of the Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.
It is one of the best understood and known to science prehistoric animals because its remains are often not fossilized but frozen and preserved.
Males were about 12 feet (3.5 m) long, while females were slightly smaller.
Curved tusks were up to 16 feet (5 m) long and their lower abdomen boasted a layer of shaggy hair up to 3 feet (1 m) long.
Small ears and short tails prevented the loss of vital body heat.
Their trunks had “two fingers” at the end to help them pluck weeds, twigs, and other plants.
The woolly mammoth is one of the best prehistoric animals known to science because its remains are not often fossilized but are frozen and preserved (artist’s impression)
They got their name from the Russian “mammoth,” or ground mole, as the animals were believed to live underground and died on contact with light – explaining why they were always found dead and half-buried.
It was believed that their bones belonged to extinct races of giants.
Woolly mammoths and modern elephants are closely related, and share 99.4 percent of their genes.
The two species took separate evolutionary paths six million years ago, around the same time humans and chimpanzees went their own way.
Woolly mammoths coexisted with early humans, who hunted them for food and used their bones and tusks to make weapons and arts.
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