Ancient Egyptian art reveals shrinking mammal populations

Published on August 16th, 2013 | by Admin

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Analysis of ancient Egyptian art has revealed that 6,000 years there were 38 species of large mammals living in the area, compared to 8 species living there today.

Ancient Egyptian rock inscriptions and carvings on pharaonic tombs chronicle hartebeest and oryx — horned beasts that thrived in the region more than 6,000 years ago. Researchers have now shown that those mammal populations became unstable in concert with significant shifts in Egypt’s climate.

The finding is based on a fresh interpretation of an archaeological and palaeontological record of ancient Egyptian mammals pieced together more than a decade ago by the zoologist Dale Osborn1. Thirty-eight large-bodied mammals existed in Egypt roughly six millennia ago, compared to just eight species today.

[Full story]

Story: Virginia Gewin, Nature | Photo: Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, Brooklyn Museum

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