Jun
13
2007

The mammoths' problem: Not hunting, but genetics

Bad genes: New findings suggest that wooly mammoths may have been victims more of inbreeding and poor genetics than being over hunted by an emerging human population. (Photo by Torontochub27)
Bad genes: New findings suggest that wooly mammoths may have been victims more of inbreeding and poor genetics than being over hunted by an emerging human population. (Photo by Torontochub27)
A new look at old question, the extinction of wooly mammoths, is leading to a new answer.

It was commonly believed that mammoths died about some 12,000 years ago due to over hunting by the growing human population on the planet. But cutting off of the intercontinental bridge between Asia and North America made have been the main culprit.

Paleontologists from England studying the lifecycle of mammoths now believe that inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity probably played the biggest role in knocking down mammoth populations. Here’s the quick mammoth timeline:

About 150,000 years ago the huge hairy elephants emerged on the scene in Asia. Some of them migrated across to North America over the land bridge that was open at that time between what is now Russia and Alaska.

Warming of the Earth raised ocean levels and cut off that land bridge, creating two distinct herds of mammoths on the each continent. For a brief time around 100,000 years ago, that land bridge came back, and the herds were able to intermingle again, but rising oceans again cut off the two groups.

With fewer genetic improvement options with the limited size of the herds, the mammoths weren’t able to adapt as quickly when another Ice Age hit some 20,000 years ago. They were able to hang on for another 8,000 years or so before becoming extinct.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Taylor McNeal's picture
Taylor McNeal says:

Why was there an ice age i want to know because we have not leaerned about that yet

posted on Tue, 07/24/2007 - 10:12am

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