Climate Change Killed Woolly Mammoth, NOT Hunting by Humans, Study Finds
According to research, WOOLLY mammoths were killed by climate change, not humans.
Global warming happened so quickly that the vegetation disappeared and they starved to death.
The disappearance of the giant Ice Age herbivore about 4,000 years ago has been the subject of debate for centuries.
Until now, prehistoric hunters have been the main suspects.
Cousins of today’s elephants lived alongside early humans and were a regular staple of their diet.
The skeletons of hairy animals have been used to build shelters, harpoons have been carved into their giant tusks, and works of art depicting them are plastered on the cave walls.
Analysis of plant and animal remains, including urine, faeces and skin cells, now reveals that our ancestors were not responsible for the mammoth’s disappearance.
The animals became extinct because when the icebergs melted it became too wet for them to survive as the vegetation they were eating was wiped out.
Researchers examined remains taken from soil samples taken over a 20-year period from sites in the Arctic where mammoth remains were found.
New technology means scientists no longer have to rely on DNA samples from bones or teeth to collect enough genetic material to recreate an ancient DNA profile.
The 10-year research project was led by Professor Eske Willerslev, Fellow of St John’s College, University of Cambridge and Director of the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Center, University of Copenhagen.
Professor Willerslev said: “Scientists have been discussing for 100 years why the mammoths are extinct.
“Humans were blamed because animals had survived millions of years without climate change killing them before, but when they lived alongside humans they didn’t last long and we were blamed. for having driven them to death.
“We were finally able to prove that it wasn’t just climate change that was the problem, but the speed of it that was the last nail in the coffin – they weren’t able to adapt quickly enough when the landscape has radically changed and their food has become scarce.
“As the climate warmed, trees and plants in wetlands took over and replaced mammoth grassland habitats.
“And we have to remember that there were a lot of animals around that were easier to hunt than a giant woolly mammoth – they could reach the height of a double-decker bus.”
Dr Yucheng Wang, first author of the article and associate researcher in the zoology department at Cambridge University, said: Mammoth herds have declined.
“The mammoths were thought to have started to go extinct by this time, but we also found out that they actually survived beyond the Ice Age in different parts of the Arctic and into the Holocene. – the times we are living in now – much longer than scientists thought. “
Professor Willerslev concluded: “This is a brutal lesson of history and shows how unpredictable climate change is – once something is lost, there is no turning back.
“Precipitation was the cause of the extinction of woolly mammoths due to changes in plants.
“The change happened so quickly that they couldn’t adapt and evolve to survive.”
The study is published in Nature.
In other news, scientists plan to bring ancient beasts such as the woolly mammoth back to life using DNA splicing.
The amazing life of a woolly mammoth has been traced – by scanning its six-foot tusk.
An unusual fossil with a series of spikes turned out to be the remains of a new species of dinosaur.
And, a sharp-toothed, tree-climbing dinosaur discovered by researchers has been dubbed the “Monkeydactyl.”
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