Don’t worry, it’s not our fault, at least this time. Mammoths were killed by climate change, but not that type of climate change that has people today going crazy over it. It seems climate change was as big an issue back then as it is now. If not bigger.
A new study has set its mind to uncovering the reason behind the extinction of the gentle giants. And I’m not talking specifically about mammoths here, but other giant animals, or as scientists call them “mega fauna.” These include the giant sloth, the giant beaver, as well as two types of mammoths, the Southern Mammoth, and the American Mastodon.
These creatures roamed the Earth just until almost 11 thousand years ago. The common belief among scientists, who have been studying them ever since the first fossils were found, is that mammoths were driven extinct due to excessive hunting by humans. It appears that we humans and the mammoths began to inhabit just about the same regions when the latter became extinct.
However, the present study comes against this belief, and maintains that it was the ever constant and rapid warming of the Earth that took place about 50 thousand years ago is the main cause to the disappearing of these beautiful animals.
The research results were published this week in the latest issue of Science and are said to be the first to attest to the connection between the mega fauna’s localized extinctions and specific climatic events. The interstadials, as they are called, are said to have been pretty common during that time. These could rise temperatures by up to 12 degrees Celsius in some areas, and in very short time-periods – sometimes even decades.
The idea that mega fauna has disappeared concomitantly to our spreading more and more throughout the world was introduced by Paul Martin, an American paleontologist. Yet, his theory is starting to lose more and more of its scientific validity.
This current study denies this, and says that quite a few mega fauna extinctions happened when there were literally no humans in sight. So climate change must be the answer, as it seems the deistic heating of the Earth may have been too much for the furry beasts who were probably used to much lower temperatures.
Still, a common belief was that the cooling of the Earth in certain areas was the one responsible for the disappearance of some mammoths. The researchers argue that this cannot be the case as the beasts were much more likely to adapt to cold than to heat.
The scientists conclude that the current climate change – the first one to be caused exclusively by humans – is also the beginning of an interstadial which could lead to great extinctions.
Image source: twnmm.com