Mammoths almost made it to modern times. Image Credit: CC BY 2.5 Public Library of Science
A population of woolly mammoths still roamed the Earth at the time the Egyptian pyramids were being built.
Perhaps the most recognizable of all extinct Ice Age mammals, the majestic woolly mammoth is often associated with a time long before modern human civilization started to appear on the scene.
Incredibly however, despite most mammoths disappearing between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago, a few isolated populations managed to hold on against all the odds.
Now according to a new study by an international team of scientists, the last remaining population of mammoths survived on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean up until 4,000 years ago.
By examining the isotope compositions of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and strontium from their bones, the researchers were able to determine that, unlike other isolated mammoth populations that died out due to environmental changes, the Wrangel Island mammoths may have instead succumbed to a sudden series of events - perhaps extreme weather conditions or an encroachment by human hunters.
"It's easy to imagine that the population, perhaps already weakened by genetic deterioration and drinking water quality issues could have succumbed after something like an extreme weather event," said study co-author Prof Herve Bocherens from the University of Tubingen.
Source: SciTech Daily | Comments (20)