Who or what killed the mammoths?
Gramps and climate are the two main culprits
June 16, 2022
This is an amazing article. Congratulations on some genuinely exploratory scientific work. I have heard countless times that the dinosaurs disappeared about 60 million years ago and the mammoths about 10,000 years ago. Not even the documentaries on German TV (which are arguably just as good as the British and the American) have ever corrected the 10,000 number. It is curious that people who seek to popularize science have not, apparently, heard of the Wrangel Island survivors from the tragedy of 10,000 years ago.
There is one further large group of now extinct animals that disappeared long ago, as humans turned up: the flightless birds of the Pacific islands, numbering about 1,300 species. Ancient sea-farers turned up and decimated most of them between 3,500 and 700 years ago, the remainder being eliminated during the period of European colonialism.
Peter_G_Moll - 2022 06 17
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That is indeed a puzzle! The Wrangel mammoth work was a while back, and there have been several follow-up research projects in Russia and elsewhere that reach similar conclusions, but the 10,000 year number reigns supreme.
The flightless birds of the Pacific are a fascinating case study, in large part because their extinction has been documented so well. Once humans appeared on the scene, the local wildlife suffered and often the larger species got wiped out. Sometimes this was from overkilling, sometimes it was from the rats, weasels, cats and other killers that accompanied human settlement. Blitzkrieg rules!
The most dramatic case is New Zealand, the last large habitable place on Earth to be settled by humans. Polynesian explorers discovered New Zealand in the late 13th century. The islands were populated by moa, nine species of large wingless birds weighing from 12 kg to 250 kg, and very tasty. Within a century a few bands of hunters with basic stone tools and fire had wiped them out.
We will cover this in detail in a forthcoming piece on the great megafauna extinctions.
HowAndWhy - 2022 06 21