Although humans and woolly mammoths co-existed for thousands of years, the shaggy giants disappeared 4,000 to 10,000 years ago—and scientists couldn’t explain until recently quite why.
But new research suggests the last of the shaggy beasts succumbed to a combination of climate warming, encroaching humans and habitat change—the same threats facing many species today.
“The answer to why woolly mammoths died off sounds a lot like what we expect with future climate warming,” said one of the researchers, Glen MacDonald, director of University of California Los Angeles’ Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
The findings were published in a paper June 12 in the journal Nature Communications.
By creating what they called the most complete maps to date of all the changes happening thousands of years ago, the researchers made a case that the extinction coincided with an array of creeping misfortunes.
When the last ice age ended about 15,000 years ago, woolly mammoths, members of the elephant family, were on the rise.
Warming melted glaciers, but the still-chilly temperatures were downright comfy for such furry animals and kept plant life in just the right balance.
It was good weather for growing mammoths’ preferred foods.
But the end was coming for the last of the woolly mammoths, who inhabited Beringia, a chilly region linked by the Bering Strait that included wide swaths of Alaska, the Yukon and Siberia...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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