Climate Change, Not Humans, Killed Mammoths

New tests suggest humans aren't to blame for extinction of prehistoric pachyderms

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 18, 2009 9:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – British scientists believe climate change did more than spear-wielding humans to wipe out the woolly mammoth in Europe, the Guardian reports. New tests have revealed that the mammoths roamed northern Europe until 14,000 years ago, much later than had been thought. Researchers believe the animals died out as the warming post-Ice Age climate slowly turned the grasslands they thrived in into forests.

"We think our research shows that climatic change, particularly working through its effect on the vegetation, was largely responsible for the extinction," one scientist said. "It was certainly responsible for squeezing the range of this species right down."

A Russian man examines bronze sculptures of mammoths in the Siberian city of  Khanty-Mansiysk.
A Russian man examines bronze sculptures of mammoths in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A Russian family enjoys a snowy day by bronze sculptures of mammoths.
A Russian family enjoys a snowy day by bronze sculptures of mammoths.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Archeologists are seen by the recently unearthed skeleton of a mammoth at an open pit coal mine in Serbia.
Archeologists are seen by the recently unearthed skeleton of a mammoth at an open pit coal mine in Serbia.   (AP Photo/Srdjan Ilic)
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They came back into Europe for a few thousand years on this rich grassland until the forests arrived and it got really warm, and that's when they died out completely. - Adrian Lister of London's Natural History Museum

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