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Climate change and not human hunters caused the extermination of woolly mammoths.

Climate change and not human hunters caused the extermination of woolly mammoths.

Woolly mammoth tusk

CAMBRIDGE, England — The woolly mammoth’s demise has been debated for centuries, with prehistoric hunters as the main suspects. According to new research, climate change was the cause of the demise of the giant herbivore, and not humans.

Scientists believe that global warming occurred so quickly that vegetation disappeared and woolly mammoths starved. The definitive answer is now found in an analysis of animal and plant remains, including urine, feces and skin cells.

“Scientists have argued for hundreds of years about why mammoths went extinct. The animals survived for millions of year without any climate change, and this has been attributed to humans. But when they lived alongside humans they didn’t last long and we were accused of Hunt them down to their death,” says study co-author Eske Willerslev of Cambridge University in England and the study’s corresponding author, in a Statement.

Arctic history: Unearthing its secrets

Over 20 years, ancient soil samples were meticulously collected From Arctic sitesWhere mammoth bones can be found. “We have finally been able to prove that it was not just the climate changing that was the problem, but the speed of it that was the final nail in the coffin. They were not able to adapt quickly enough when the landscape dramatically transformed and their food became scarce,” explains Willerslev.

Woolly mammoth tusk
A mammoth tusk found on the Logata River bank. (Credit: Johanna Anjar)

Flooded by melted icebergsThe steppe tundra wiped out the plants, flowers, small shrubs, and trees that supported the mammoths. The animals used their huge tusks, which could reach 14 feet in length, to shovel snow away and uproot tough grasses. “As the climate warmed up, trees and wetland plants took over and replaced the mammoth’s grassland habitats,” says Willerslev.

The hairy cousins of today’s elephants lived alongside early humans and were a regular staple of their diet. Their skeletons, and large tusks, were used to create shelters and harpoons. Their art is featured here Cave walls daubed with graffiti. A flute made of mammoth bone, 30,000 years old, is the oldest known musical instrument. There is not much evidence that our ancestors actually killed Mammoths.

“And we should remember there were a lot of animals around that were easier to hunt than a giant woolly mammoth — they could grow to the height of a double-decker bus,” Willerslev adds.

Woolly mammoths among the world’s most fascinating creatures

Woolly mammoths, and their ancestors, are among the most successful creatures to have ever walked the Earth. They were present for five million years, before finally disappearing for good almost 4,000 years ago. Prof. Willerslev and his colleagues claim that the ten-year-long study finally proves this. It was based on “DNA shotgun sequencing” that breaks a genome into small fragments to identify organisms. The pandemic was a good example of the laboratory technique. Test your sewage to determine COVID. It allows experts to recreate ancient genetic profiles, without having to rely upon bones or teeth.

Mammoths survived several Ice Ages and evolved. Along with reindeer, woolly rhinoceroses, vast herds flourished. Despite the snow and cold, there was plenty to keep them alive. Mammoths could travel the equivalent of twice around the globe in their lifetime. Fossil records prove they lived.All continents, except South America and Australia.

Populations were known to have initially survived the end of the last Ice Age in small pockets off the coasts of Siberia and Alaska — on Wrangel Island and St. Paul Island. Research revealed that they actually lived longer elsewhere. Despite being geographically separate, both island breeds were very similar. The project involved mapping the DNA of 1,500 Arctic plants to enable us to draw globally important conclusions.

“The most recent Ice Age — called The Pleistocene — ended 12,000 years ago when the glaciers began to melt and the roaming range of the herds of mammoths decreased. It was thought mammoths began to go extinct then, but we also found they actually survived beyond the Ice Age all in different regions of the Arctic and into the Holocene — the time that we are currently living in ­— far longer than scientists realized,” notes study first author Dr. Yucheng Wang, also from Cambridge.

Here is a selection of sediment taken from various Arctic sites. (Credit: Yucheng Wang)

“We zoomed into the intricate detail of the environmental DNA and mapped out the population spread of these mammals and showed how it becomes smaller and smaller and their genetic diversity gets smaller and smaller too, which made it even harder for them to survive. When the climate got wetter and the ice began to melt it led to the formation of lakes, rivers, and marshes,” Dr. Wang continues. “The ecosystem changed and the biomass of the vegetation reduced and would not have been able to sustain the herds of mammoths. We have shown Climate change, specifically precipitation, directly drives the change in the vegetation — humans had no impact on them at all based on our models.”

The pyramids were built even though the Mammoths existed. Their disappearance is the. Last natural extinction story. Manny, the woolly Mammoth, is still a fascination. He was the star of five animated Ice Age films. Woolly mammoths could even be “resurrected” within six years. Harvard geneticists have raised $15m for their return.

‘Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to dramatic changes in weather’

Prof. Willerslev says the discovery has implications for the climate crisis the world faces today: “This is a stark lesson from history and shows how unpredictable climate change is — once something is lost, there is no going back. The change in plants and precipitation caused the extinctions of woolly mammoths. They could not adapt and evolve to survive the rapid changes.

“It shows nothing is guaranteed when it comes to The impact of drastic weather changes,” he continues. “The early humans would have seen the world change beyond all recognition — that could easily happen again and we cannot take for granted that we will even be around to witness it. The only thing we can predict with any certainty is that the change will be massive.”

Georges Cuvier, in 1796, identified the mammoth elephant as an extinct species. It was about the same size as Modern African Elephants. Males weighed six tons and stood more than 11 feet tall.

This study has been published in the journal Nature.

This report was written by Mark Waghorn of South West News Service.

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