Join our zoo community

How zoos and other captive animal collections will impact the fossil record

Discussion in 'Zoo Cafe' started by evilmonkey239, 1 Oct 2019.

  1. evilmonkey239

    evilmonkey239 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18 Mar 2018
    Posts:
    281
    Location:
    Michigan
    I remember meaning at some point that remains of domesticated chickens unearthed by future paleontologists could “define the anthropogenic epoch” as we keep so darn many of the birds for consumption and raise them all over the globe. The aforementioned scientists will probably at least initially infer that junglefowl were a naturally globe-inhabiting species, even though they were only originally native to South-Eastern Asia prior to domestication.
    Presumably other livestock will have a similar affect on these paleontologist’s viewpoints, and it is likely that certain animals we keep as pets will as well. But the purpose of this thread is to discuss: how will wild animals kept captive by humans, in zoos or otherwise, around the world look in the fossil record?
    I’d assume that the natural distribution of many species will be severely distorted, and this could lead to paleontologists making inaccurate inferences on the biology of many popular zoo animals. This especially applies to many popular species kept in collections around the globe like lions, tigers, chimps, giraffes, meerkats, ring-tailed lemurs, penguins, kangaroos, and macaws— regardless of the natural environment of the region of where these zoos are. If remains of say, meerkats, are found from Canada to Australia, then they must have been a remarkably versatile animal adapting to many different environments around planet earth. That’s just one example of a conclusion that paleontologists millions of years from now— whether they’re aliens or something descended from an animal currently living on earth— might make that is majorly distorted from reality.
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 May 2009
    Posts:
    1,150
    Location:
    South Gloucestershire, UK
    Aren't most deceased zoo animals incinerated?
     
    evilmonkey239 likes this.
  3. evilmonkey239

    evilmonkey239 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18 Mar 2018
    Posts:
    281
    Location:
    Michigan
    I believe so, now that you mention it.
    I may have overlooked that critical detail...
     
  4. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18 Jun 2011
    Posts:
    3,318
    Location:
    London, UK
    I think future palaeontologists will be confused by the remains of many domestic animals, which look very different from their wild ancestors. How many palaeontologists will realise that various breeds of domestic dog belong to the same species?
     
    evilmonkey239 likes this.
  5. evilmonkey239

    evilmonkey239 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18 Mar 2018
    Posts:
    281
    Location:
    Michigan
    You’re right, they’ll probably only discover that if genetic analysis of the fossils is a viable option.