Recently, a team of paleontologists discovered some fossilized tracks dating from back to the Ice Age at Fossil Lake in Oregon. According to them, the tracks belonged to ancient mammoths that lived thousands of years ago in that area.
The researchers think that the trackway was made by infant, young, and adult mammoths. Gregory Retallack, a University of Oregon professor, initially discovered the tracks in the ancient basin back in 2014.
However, he returned to the area only last year along with with a team of researchers. Their aim was to excavate the trackway. The journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology recently published their study results.
Ancient Tracks Reveal Interesting Things about Young Mammoths
The team uncovered 117 fossils, all about 43,000-years-old. However, among the many ancient tracks, there was a special one, which the team took a particular interest in.
According to Retallack, these prints were very close to each other. Also, the ones on the right side were more accentuated than those on the left. As if an adult, massive mammoth was limping and trying to move away from something.
So, judging by the look of these particular tracks, an adult mammoth, who was probably gravely wounded, was part of the herd. What’s more interesting is that some young mammoths seemed to be regularly checking on the wellbeing of the big, wounded adult.
Retallack says that it’s possible that the wounded mammoth was actually a female, maybe even the young ones’ mother. According to the tracks, they were constantly turning back during their journey to check on her.
She was probably behind them, as she was probably limping. It’s interesting to note that modern-day herds of African elephants often display the same behavior.
Sometimes, tracks are more seemingly important than bones when it comes to understanding the history or behaviors of certain species.
“Tracks sometimes tell more about ancient creatures than their bones, particularly when it comes to their behavior. It’s amazing to see this kind of interaction preserved in the fossil record,” states Retallack.
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