Wooly Mammoth went extinct about 1700 BC

Wooly Mammoth went extinct about 1700 BC

Using Radio Carbon Dating (which is interesting in itself) scientists have determined that the last Wooly Mammoths died about 1700 B.C.

They were a dwarfed species that lived on Wrangel Island which is in the Artic Sea in North Eastern Russia. Dwarfism is fairly typical for animals that get trapped on islands, so their size is nothing unexpected and does not make them a separate species. The island is now home to the largest population of Polar Bears in the world, and Arctic Wolves have started living there.

It’s generally thought that the bulk of the species died off 10,000 years ago during the Pleistocene era. The exact cause is unknown, but ironically over hunting by humans tends to be the number one theory, although warming after the last Ice Age certainly played a huge part.

What is really interesting is the range of these animals. Remains have been found in Siberia (given), Alaska (on St. Paul Island where they lived up until 3,750 BC), Spain and as far south in North America as present day Kentucky, where William Clark, of Lewis and Clark,collected some fossils in 1806.

But despite the known extinction dates, rumors of live Woolly Mammoths have persisted up until fairly recent times. There are several stories of lone hunters in Siberia, or Native American tribes in the far North having seen such animals in recent memory. Based on the number of intact carcasses found over the years, 34 in 1929 and now doubled since then, plus rumors of soft tissue being used as an emergency food source by small villages in the winter time, it’s very possible that the 1700 BC date is still incorrect.

As the DNA sequence for a Mammoth is the most complete of any extinct animal, it’s generally thought that it’ll be a trivial task to use that information to clone one. Due to it’s large size and the (relatively) easier task of getting intact DNA samples from Mammoth corpses, it’s believed that if some intact sperm cells can be recovered, an Indian elephant can be impregnated, bringing the Mammoth back to life.

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