Mammoths and other beasts may have fed on flowers. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Flying Puffin
High-protein wildflowers may have played an integral part in the diets of large herbivorous mammals.
The idea that large mammals such as mammoths and rhinos would have once roamed a bland Arctic landscape of browns and yellows has been called in to question. Researchers had previously based this picture on fossilized pollen discovered in the permafrost, but because grasses tend to produce far more pollen than other types of plants the results indicated a greater percentage of grasses than was actually the case.
By instead analyzing a wider range of samples in conjunction with DNA retrieved from the guts and excrement of fossilized beasts, the researchers were able to paint a far more colorful picture of what the ancient landscape might have been like.
Far from being a cornucopia of dull browns and yellows, the Arctic scenery would have been awash with colorful flowering plants and other types of vegetation. It is also now believed that mammoths and other large herbivores would have likely dined on these flowers as part of their diets.
"It makes us rethink how the vegetation looked and how those animals thrived on the landscape," said study co-author Joseph Craine.
Source: Live Science | Comments (5)
Mammoth, Flowers, Ice Age