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article imageTrees, not hunters killed off the woolly mammoth

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Dec 17, 2007 in Science
The woolly mammoth, one of the largest mammals to ever roam the earth, did not die out because man hunted it to extinction. In reality, they died out because of expanding forests.
De Standaard, a leading newspaper in Flanders (Belgium) reports that Adrian Lister, a paleobiologist of the London University College, who is considered one of the top experts on the ice age claims that the frozen grasslands where they lived were gradually replaced by forests at the end of the last ice age. As a result, the giant animals could no longer feed themselves.
Lister concluded this based on DNA tests, performed on hundreds of fossils. These show that the genetic differences between individual mammoths were very small, too small to allow them to adapt to the changing circumstances. This way, he refutes existing theories that claim that efficient hunting techniques and/or global warming were the causes of the extinction of the mammoth.
Around the middle of the last ice age, about 30,000 years ago, there were millions of mammoths on earth. They originated about 7 million years earlier in tropical Africa. They migrated to northern regions and adapted perfectly to the cold. However, about 20,000 years later, they were extinct because although they were able to adapt to the changing climate, they proved unable to adapt to the changing vegetation.
More about Woolly mammoth, Adrian lister, Extinction trees climate
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