The UK was for substantial periods in the past largely covered by glaciers that advanced and receded over the landscape as climate changed. At various times when the ice had retreated - the inter-glacials - animals and plants moved back, colonising and flourishing in the new landscape. What is now the coast of Norfolk was part of an ecosystem in the valley of a slow-flowing river, home to mammoths, rhino and bison, bears, wild dogs, hyenas, lions, deer, horses and waterfowl. They lived across a low landscape with mixed woodland of oak, alder and birch.
Adrian Lister (Palaeontology) and former NHM researcher Tony Stuart have co-edited a special issue of the science journal Quaternary International that brings together 18 papers on the geology, dating, floras and faunas of the stratotype deposit of the Cromerian Interglacial of the Pleistocene (ca 700,000 years BP). These studies were presented at an earlier conference at the Castle Museum in Norwich.
This major piece of work represents the culmination of 20 years of research, beginning with the discovery and excavation in West Runton (Norfolk) of a mammoth skeleton (Mammuthus trogontherii) in 1990. This mammoth would have weighed around 9 tonnes, considerably larger than most modern African elephants, and died at over 40 years of age.
The volume includes contributions from past and present members of the department, including Simon Parfitt, Mark Lewis, Marzia Breda, Nigel Larkin, and John Stewart. The West Runton mammoth skeleton is the most complete of the species, and it represents an important stage in the evolution of the woolly mammoth. Its discovery stimulated a comprehensive study of every aspect of the site, resulting in a new and vivid picture of the environment of the time.
Lister, A.M. & Stuart, A.J. (eds) 2010. The West Runton Freshwater Bed and the West Runton Mammoth. Quaternary International 228, 1-248.