According to a recent study, one of the factors that led to the disappearance of the woolly mammoths and other species of mammals that lived during the Ice Age was climate change. The warmer temperatures are responsible for the extinction of the large animals like the giant sloth and the mammoths.
The study was conducted by a team of international researchers from the University of Adelaide in collaboration with the University of New South Wales. According to their research, the last period of the ice age was confronted with rapid warming temperatures which eventually led to the dying off of many species of prehistoric animals. These extinction events occurred even before man appeared in the scene.
Alan Cooper, one of the researchers involved in the study, explained that the abrupt warming climate had a profound impact on the environment in those times and affected the rainfall and the growth of the vegetation. Cooper added that climate change was not the only factor responsible for the extinction of the Ice Age animals. Humans also played an important role due to the fragmentation of the environment , which is very similar to what we are doing today to our world.
A study conducted more than a decade ago revealed that there was a pattern in the ancient DNA which suggested that the prehistoric creatures disappeared very rapidly. The researchers started to find more fossils from those times and studied the DNA samples, which helped them better understand the environment during the Ice Age.
The more they studied the fossils, the more they began to understand that that rapid warming led to the extinction of the large animals during the Ice Age.
The scientists detailed their findings the journal Science.
The new study suggests that during the Late Pleistocene, between 60,000 to 12,000 years ago, when the Earth’s climate was very unstable, there were abrupt rises in temperature called interstadials. The researchers wrote in their paper that these interstadials increased the temperatures 70 to 29 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few decades.
Because of these changes, the large mammals that lived back then were unable to survive the increasingly warmer climate, mostly because it affected their habitat and food sources.
This new study is the latest one where scientists are trying to figure out what happened to the “megafauna”, or the large animals that weighed more than 45 kg, and what caused them to go extinct during the late Pleistocene period.
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