Skeleton and reconstruction of Myotragus balearicus

Myotragus balearicus. II.
Recent research rejects the long established theory based on “filed” horns suggesting that the animals were herded in an attempt to domesticate them. Had this been so, it would have been the only species in the world to become extinct after being domesticated. Instead, the suggestion is that the bones were gnawed by other Myotragus, in search of phosphorus, and only in caves with wide, open entrances. Myotragus remains found in caves of difficult access show no such characteristic v-shaped horns.

Domestication would, however, explain the assumed coexistence of the animal and humans over possibly two millennia (and the 2000 bones in Son Mulata, a cave of exceedingly difficult access), as the general rule is for all edible fauna to reach extinction rather rapidly on the arrival of human settlers. Radio carbon dating has demonstrated that Myotragus, formerly held to have become extinct in the Pleistocene, survived into the Neolithic, presumably side by side with Man.


©Copyright Andrea Boyd 2007-2009