Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Extinction of the Woolly Mammoth

Some people have suggested that no woolly mammoths could have survived the Younger Dryas impact events.

However, this view has been conclusively demonstrated to be erroneous: The latest woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius Blumenbach) in Europe and Asia: a review of the current evidence.

During the Last Cold Stage, woolly mammoths ranged very widely across Northern Eurasia into North America, but then disappeared as part of the global phenomenon of Late Quaternary megafaunal extinction. The timing and causes of this highly significant event have generated conflicting opinions and much debate. However, the overriding need is for more data, and recent years have seen the accumulation of significant new finds and radiocarbon dating evidence. In particular, research is currently focussing on the geographical pattern of extirpation leading to final extinction, rather than seeking a single ‘last appearance datum’. This Viewpoint article was commissioned by the Editor-in-Chief and is published following the paper by Lõugas et al. (Dating the extinction of European mammoths: new evidence from Estonia. Quat. Sci. Rev. 21 (2002) 1347) to place their finding in a wider context. We give a brief review of the youngest directly dated mammoth remains from different regions of Eurasia, based both on published sources and on our own current research. This includes a very important new record from Cherepovets, North Russian Plain, which together with the new date from Puurmani, Estonia indicates the persistence of mammoth in this region close to the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary. These and other records suggest that the previous picture of mammoths widespread before 12,000 ka BP (uncalibrated radiocarbon years ago), then restricted to limited areas of northern Siberia, although correct in outline, has important exceptions which modify our understanding of mammoth extinction.

Despite the many available radiocarbon dates for Eurasian mammoth relative to other extinct megafauna, it is apparent that much more work is needed. Only then can we adequately tackle the important question of the cause or causes of extinction
It seems some woolly mammoths did in fact survive.

Live Science: Surviving Extinction: Where Woolly Mammoths Endured.

Like an Ice Age version of Land of the Lost, a group of woolly mammoths survived mass extinctions on their own island hideaway.

The majority of mammoths died out about 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene era. But on St. Paul Island, one of the Pribolofs 300 miles off the Alaskan coast, a small number of the six-ton behemoths apparently lasted an extra 3,000 years

Such resilient populations have been discovered on other continents, but this is the first evidence of mammoths outlasting the Pleistocene in North America. R. Dale Guthrie from the University of Alaska Fairbanks studied radiocarbon dating of fossil remains and showed that the mammoths were on St. Paul 7,908 years ago.

"With the present data, the idea isn't very controversial, but more data may show they lasted a little longer on the island than my one date," Guthrie told LiveScience.
And not only that, some woolly mammoths survived until the Bronze Age.

Radiocarbon: Radiocarbon Dating Evidence for Mammoths on Wrangel Island, Arctic Ocean, until 2000 BC.


Anaconda said...


OilIsMastery is right to point out the exceptions to the extinction of Wooly Mammoths around 10,000 B.C.

What do those exceptions tell science?

What jumps out at the reader is that all these groups of Wooly Mammoths survived on islands. Again, what might that suggest to science?

Well, what is the characteristics of islands? Islands are surrounded by water and what is the characteristic of water? Water retains heat much longer than the atmosphere and it moderates the temperature of islands to whatever the water temperature is in that area of ocean.

So, could it be that Wooly Mammoths survived the cold because it simply didn't get as cold on these isolated islands?

Could be.

Another question on a tangential note is how did the Wooly Mammoths get to the islands in the first place?


I've seen video of elephants swimming. Not exactly synchronized swimming, but they get the job done.

Still, all the above does nothing to contradict the scientfic evidence that a series of meteorites (comets?) impacted the Earth roughly around 12,000 B.C. as evinced by this black layer of residue consistent with material from meteorites.

And more important, if this impact caused most megafauna to go extinct, what happened to Man?

Louis Hissink said...

I think one might find that the remains on St.Paul island in the Bering sea that date 2000 BC might actually be the date of the Pleistocene event.

No one seems to realise that 6 tonne elephants need a lot of food and the proposed Tundra Steppes is basically wrong.

These elephants were living temperate regions, not arctic.