An 11 000-year-old giant muntjac subfossil from Northern Vietnam: implications for past and present populations

C. M. Stimpson, B. Utting, S. O'Donnell, N. T. M. Huong, T. Kahlert, B. V. Manh, P. S. Khanh, R. J. Rabett

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Abstract

Described at the end of the twentieth century, the large-antlered or giant muntjac, Muntiacus gigas (syn. vuquangensis), is a Critically Endangered species currently restricted to the Annamite region in Southeast Asia. Here we report subfossil evidence of giant muntjac, a mandible fragment dated between 11.1 and 11.4 thousand years before present, from northern Vietnam. We describe morphological and metric criteria for diagnosis and consider the specimen in the context of regional archaeological and palaeontological records of Muntiacus. We then consider the palaeoenvironmental context of the specimen and the implications for habitat requirements for extant populations. The new specimen extends the known spatial and temporal range of giant muntjacs in Vietnam
and is further evidence that this species was more widely distributed in the Holocene than current records indicate. While regional proxy evidence indicates a drier climate and more open woodland habitats at the onset of the Holocene,
contextual evidence indicates that the specimen derived from an animal inhabiting limestone karst forest. This record also supports the assertion that remnant populations are in a refugial state, as a result of anthropogenic pressures, ratherthan representing a centre of endemism. These facts underscore the urgent need for the conservation of remaining populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number181461
Number of pages18
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019

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Keywords

  • Muntiacus gigas, vuquangensis, zooarchaeology, Vietnam, Annamites

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