Department News

2012-06-14

WOOLLY MAMMOTHS COULD NOT TAKE THE HEAT

Woolly mammoths disappeared from the planet due to a combination of climate change and human hunting according to a comprehensive study recently published in the journal Nature Communications by Professors Glen MacDonald, Robert Wayne, and Blaire Van Valkenburgh along with collaborators. The researchers pulled together over 1200 radiocarbon dates of mammoth bones, along with paleobotanical and archaeological data to carefully map the distribution and decline of the mammoths over 50,000 years from a time of widespread abundance to their final stand on remote arctic islands just 4000 years ago. Their data show that a rapid warming trend and the arrival of humans in North America around 12 to 11 thousand years ago are associated with a dramatic drop in mammoth numbers. Their study of how global warming in the past contributed to extinction might help us prevent future extinctions due to rising earth temperatures. For more details on this exciting research, see UCLA Newsroom.