Scientists finally figured out what the last days of the wooly mammoth looked like. The last home of the wooly mammoths, a distant cousin of the elephant, was St Paul Island which is located between the US and Russia.
These animals of the ice age disappeared completely 5,600 years ago. Other species around the world had been extinct 5,000 years before. Now, scientists have finally reached a consensus on what killed these animals.
According to experts from the US and Canada, the loss of drinking water sources led to the extinction of the giant animals covered in fur. The team of scientists studied samples of ancient DNA and the environmental changes which took place on the island. It became populated with humans in 1787. But the mammoth population was shrinking because of not having enough fresh water supplies. The scarcity of water was caused by a warmer climate and rising sea levels contributing to the island shrinking and the lakes becoming shallower.
When the sea levels rose, salty water got mixed with fresh water and ruined the fresh water supply of shallow lakes.
Because of this, mammoths became overcrowded and shared the little water they had left led to their complete disappearance.
The mammoths contributed to their own extinction by thumping on the surrounding vegetation and polluting the fresh water with particles of vegetation and sediments of land. These giant animals would drink high quantities of water, similar to elephants, which drink from 70 to 200 liters of water daily.
From another point of view, the study shows how a species shrinks and then disappears because of the changing environment. It shows how small populations react to changes in the surroundings.
But as ice age animals were disappearing, humanity was ascending some 10,000 km away. At that point in time, the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia were taking off. Humanity was fashioning silk, crafting wheels and smelting copper and lead.
The mammoth story also shows the perils of climate change on an otherwise thriving population. These types of effects can be seen in the south Pacific today, with islands running low on fresh water as the sea levels continue to rise.
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Image Source – Wikipedia