Kiko, you tourist guide

Prehistoric and giant animals that lived in Menorca

Do you know that the islands of Mallorca and Menorca were linked by a land passage about 2 million years ago? Researchers say that at that time the waters of the sea dropped level and it could walk from one island to another. At that time some animals passed to Menorca. One of them was a primitive goat. They were the ancestors of what was later called Myotragus Balearicus.

 

The Myotragus of Menorca

Cuqui does not believe it. He knows that I like to tell stories. But I do not invent them, I only tell the things I read and I always listen to the elders when they tell old legends and traditions.

  • "Why did the sea go?" Asks Cuqui.

  • "In those years there was an ice age and in the earth it was very cold so the water of the seas and the oceans froze at the poles and accumulated there. This caused the entire sea level to fall and a large bridge of land that linked the two islands appeared, "he explained.

  • "And how did the water come back?" He says with wide eyes.

  • "Well, it's easy, Cuqui, the climate became temperate again and the seas recovered their normal level. But in Menorca there was a small species of goat that had arrived from Mallorca and lived here until the first settlers arrived, "I tell him.

A goat that could not jump

Over all the years that this animal was isolated in Menorca, evolved to become a small species of goat but smaller than normal. It also had two very long incisor teeth, like rabbits, a short nose and two small horns on the head. Researchers discovered some remains of this animal near the Paleochristian Basilica of Son Bou.

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No person lived on the island and there were no other animals that wanted to hunt him, so the Myotragus became a "vague".

  • "The animals are not lazy and the goats I've seen sometimes near the Royal Son Bou Family Club are fun and they jump and run through the countryside! Kiko I think you're trying to cheat me, "he says as he looks at me angrily.

  • "No, Cuqui, that's true. These animals were changing and did not run, they only walked and did not know how to jump because they had very short legs, "I reply.

This could be one of the causes of his disappearance about 3000 years ago when the first people who decided to live here arrived in Menorca. As the Myotragus did not know how to run it was easy to hunt. It seems that they also tried to tame them and lived with them in the caves. But as they had brought some animals, sheep and goats, some scientists believe that what extinguished the Myotragus were the diseases they infected. They could not survive.

The king of rabbits lived in Menorca

  • "Wow, Kiko, this is a sad story. To think that they were so close to here and now are no longer there, "says Cuqui apologetic.

  • "They have also found remains of this animal in other parts of Menorca such as Es Grau or the ravine of Algendar, I say him. "Do you know that there were other animals that lived on the island millions of years ago? Did I tell you the story of the giant rabbit?

Cuqui's curiosity makes him open his eyes a lot and he asks me to start explaining about the giant rabbit.

  • Once upon a time, between 3 and 5 million years ago, a great animal lived in Menorca. A rabbit as you have never seen it because it came to weigh more than 15 kilos. They were quiet. As it was very big, it could not jump and it walked like a bear with the palms of the hands on the ground. No other animal faced him. It was big but had a small head and ears and very strong legs "

  • "Are not there any left? Asks Cuqui.

  • "No, they disappeared before the humans arrived on the island. But we know they were on the island because a young Menorquin discovered some bones in a rock near the lighthouse of Punta Nati, in Ciutadella. He studied them until he wrote a project that he presented as a doctoral thesis at the University. He named him Nuralagux rex which means "Minorcan rabbit king" "

  • "A giant in Menorca! How exciting", answers Cuqui.

  • "And it was not the only one. He lived with giant tortoises. They found remains of them in Binibeca. And there were also giant dormice and giant bats, "I tell him.

Black lizards unique from Menorca

They were very curious animals, much older than today. Researchers believe that this is because there was little food and evolution led them to become more robust and strong to get the food they needed to live. They ate herbs and tubers that they extracted by scratching the earth.

But some of the animals that came to Menorca millions of years ago could tell us the whole history of the Mediterranean. They are the lizards. In some islets such as the Isla del Aire, in front of Punta Prima, lives the sargantana, a black lizard unique in the world. It was isolated by the water and is descendant of the first reptiles that came to the island from the Iberian Peninsula.

If they could talk, they would tell us some very interesting things about the evolution of the inhabitants of Menorca. Did you like the history of these prehistoric and giant animals? Do you know any similar story from where you live?

Ilustración: MEIKE KÖHLER y Foto: Museu de Menorca
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