The Thule region in north Greenland formerly supported a population of musk-oxen (Ovibos moschatus). Radiocarbon dating of bones of this mammal collected on the terrain surface and from archaeological sites has yielded late Holocene ages, indicating that the species was a late immigrant to this part of Greenland. The species may have arrived at a time when the area was uninhabited, and it had at least a thousand years to spread south, before the Late Dorset people arrived. The heavy glaciation of Melville Bugt in the late Holocene was probably the main reason that the musk-ox did not disperse south to west Greenland. The population of musk-ox in the region may have peaked during the Medieval Warm Period, and the species survived during the occupation of the region by the Late Dorset people. The size of the population may have declined during the beginning of the Little Ice Age, and musk-ox was probably exterminated from the region shortly after the arrival of the mobile Thule people.
- Programområde 5: Natur og klima