Contrary to common belief, it was not human hunting but climate change that wiped out the totality of the woolly mammoth species from the face of earth, a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B said.
An ancient relative of the Asian elephant, the woolly mammoth species were present on Earth as far back as 700,000 years ago, roaming the northeastern regions of Siberia. Its habitat range through much of northern Eurasia and North America was based on fossil remains. This occurred during the Late Pleistocene, from about 12,000 to 116,000 years ago, when the planet entered into a globally cool period. The animals went extinct shortly after when the Late Pleistocene ended.
Restoration of a group in late Pleistocene northern Spain, by Mauricio Antón
"The picture that seems to be emerging is that they were a fairly dynamic species that went through local extinctions, expansions and migrations. It is quite exciting that so much was going on," Dr Love Dalen, a scientist at Swedish Museum of Natural History, said.
Analyzing the DNA samples of about 300 woolly mammoths, scientists discovered the number of the woolly mammoths fell from millions to thousands, suggesting the huge mammoths were sensitive to climate changes. As the Ice Age warmed and the glaciers melted, the animals were unable to recover from their habitat because they got confined to a tiny surface on the Earth.
Model at the Royal BC Museum
The mammoths apparently became anxious and stressed as to how the warming planet gave of its effect on their habitat.
"We found that a previous warm period some 120,000 years ago caused populations to decline and become fragmented, in line with what we would expect for cold-adapted species such as the woolly mammoth," Eleftheria Palkopoulou, lead study author at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, said.
"Climate change squeezed them down to small patches and maybe in that situation human hunting could have dealt the final blow," researcher Adrian Lister told The Daily Telegraph.
Restoration of a herd walking near the Somme River by Charles R. Knight
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