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DNA mutations may have doomed the mammoth


Claire.
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DNA Mutations May Have Doomed the Woolly Mammoth

By the end of the ice age, the last remaining woolly mammoths had acquired so many genetic mutations that their numbers were practically guaranteed to spiral toward extinction, a new study has revealed.

Mammoths were once among the most common large herbivores that roamed across North America, Siberia and Beringia, a geographic area that once stretched from Siberia to the Canadian Yukon but is now mostly submerged under the Bering Strait. The giant beasts first appeared about 700,000 years ago. But, at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, their population suddenly declined.

Read more: Live Science

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5 hours ago, Mr.United_Nations said:

What about all the other megafauna at that time?

Same thing I was thinking. A few years ago I became really interested in how the last ice age ended and where all the energy came from to melt all the ice so quickly. I sill haven't found a good answer.

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11 hours ago, Why not said:

Same thing I was thinking. A few years ago I became really interested in how the last ice age ended and where all the energy came from to melt all the ice so quickly. I sill haven't found a good answer.

Ice ages are cyclic. 

http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatechange2/01_1.shtml

Edited by godnodog
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It sounds as if the last herd of mammoth had a lack of genetic variety, genetic defects becoming more common as they were past from one generation to the next.

Norfolf!!!!

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The Wrangel Island population of mammoths had such a high number of genetic defects because they were inbreeding. Genetic bottlenecks happen when animals become stranded on small islands with limited resources. However, these genetic defects did not cause the extinction of the species as a whole.

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7 minutes ago, Carnoferox said:

The Wrangel Island population of mammoths had such a high number of genetic defects because they were inbreeding. Genetic bottlenecks happen when animals become stranded on small islands with limited resources. However, these genetic defects did not cause the extinction of the species as a whole.

 Could geographic isolation due to human predation create conditions for sustained interbreeding and genetic degradation? 

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42 minutes ago, Farmer77 said:

 Could geographic isolation due to human predation create conditions for sustained interbreeding and genetic degradation? 

This is one of the key aspects to a major theory about the megafauna extinction in general. 

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53 minutes ago, Farmer77 said:

 Could geographic isolation due to human predation create conditions for sustained interbreeding and genetic degradation? 

Definitely. That is what happened to the Wrangel Island woolly mammoths. However, it is not known for sure if the geographic isolation was caused by human hunting. A more likely explanation is the gradual disappearance of the mammoth steppe (the natural habitat of the woolly mammoth and numerous other species) and its replacement with boreal forests.

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It's also one of the factors which played a part in the extinction of the thylacine, and the decline in devil numbers de to DFTD. Not necessarily in the case of the thylacine initially through human agency, and not in the case of the devil. Both instances are the result of geographic isolation. However with the tiger human hunting and land alteration probably exacerbated  the effect. 

The same has I believe been postulated for hunting patterns in N America during the late Pliestocene early Holocene. Extinction has lots of little helpers. 

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20 hours ago, Carnoferox said:

Definitely. That is what happened to the Wrangel Island woolly mammoths. However, it is not known for sure if the geographic isolation was caused by human hunting. A more likely explanation is the gradual disappearance of the mammoth steppe (the natural habitat of the woolly mammoth and numerous other species) and its replacement with boreal forests.

Wrangle wasn't always an island, the  Mammoths didn't swim there.

Jean Auel said that it was habitat lose that did them in; their environment was the edge of the Glaciers, almost literally. Wrangle may have been the last place in the world they felt comfortable. 

 

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Woolly mammoths reached Wrangel Island while it was still part of the Bering Land Bridge, then became trapped as sea levels rose again. Habitat loss was a major contributing factor to the extinction of the woolly mammoth. Woolly mammoth habitat wasn't right at the edge of glaciers though, but rather on the wide open steppe. Auel is just an author (not a paleontologist), so I wouldn't use her as a reliable source.

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Yeah, but I liked her books. B)

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