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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Ancient rhinoceros on Caldey Island 1974


I was rooting through my old box file on Caldey Island and came across this historic photo -- hmmm, not sure about the distinctly uncool pudding bowl hair-style, but let that pass -- of me and Brother James rooting around the entrance to Ogof-yr-Ychen, in a rather precarious position above the sea.

That was fun........  Brother Jales was a legendary character on Caldey -- master of many trades and a delightful fellow who did a huge amount to advance our knowledge of prehistory on the island.

Anyway, as a result of the research in 1973-74 we managed to get a date on a rhinoceros scapula -- 22,350 yrs BP+/- 620 yrs.  Hyenas had removed most of the animal's remains, but the scapula was left behind.  That placed the rhino slap in the middle of the Late Devensian ice advance.  The significance of that date is now becoming apparent, with the debate about whether Caldey was glaciated around this time.  I still think it was -- but the ice cover must have been thin and very short-lived.  The rhino was probably sheltering in the cave to get away from the cold.....

We published the date in a short note in "Nature" on Oct 26th 1973.

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