Historical Footprints of the Ice Age: The Last Mammoth on Earth, Dead on a Remote Island

Historical footprint: Earth once had giant animals that were strong and incomparable, one of them was furry Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius).

Historical Footprints of the Ice Age: The Last Mammoth on Earth, Dead on a Remote Island
Illustration (Esteban de Armas) -  Earth once had giant animals that were strong and incomparable, one of them was furry Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius).

Although Mammoth has long been extinct, but the mystery of the end of the story of that species is still being a mystery and continues to be explored by the researchers. 

One of the researches about the Mammoth story was researched by a team of international scientists who were a combination of Universities of Helsinki and Tübingen and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The joint team is trying to reconstruct the mammoth extinction scenario. 

In their study, they revealed that the last furry mammoth lived on the island of Wrangel in the Arctic Ocean. Mammoth went extinct around 4,000 years ago in a very short time. 

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Science Daily reported, Monday (10/07/2019), during the last ice age - about 100,000 to 15,000 years ago - mammoths were widespread in the northern hemisphere from Spain to Alaska.

Because of global warming, which began 15,000 years ago, their habitat in Northern Siberia and Alaska has diminished. While mammoths on Wrangel Island were cut off from land due to rising sea levels. This population is isolated.

In a study published in Quaternary Science Reviews, the research team examined the composition of isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, locusts and strontium from a collection of bones and teeth.

Its function is to determine changes in the environment so that it can reconstruct the diet and habitat of the mammoth itself. 

The team conducted the research on mammoths from Northern Siberia, Alaska, Yukon, and Wrangel Island, ranging from 40,000 to 4000 years.

Researchers found that before hairy mammoths that lived in Russia and Ukraine became extinct, there was a dramatic change in the isotopes. This shows a significant change in the environment and the mammoth diet.

Meanwhile, the mammoths that live on Wrangel Island, don't showin the significant changes that affect the lives of the mammoths. 

So, if there is no environmental pressure, why can mammoths become extinct quickly?

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The researchers believe that the combination of the isolated habitat, extreme weather events, and even the spread of prehistoric humans was played an important role in the death of the mammoths. 

"For example of snow falling which eventually covers the ground that can prevent animals from finding their food source. It causes a dramatic population decline and eventually becomes extinct," explained Hervé Bocherens, one of the researchers at the University of Tübingen, reported by Science Alert, Tuesday (8/10/10) 2019). 

Previous research also had found the indications of decreasing water quality on that island. This isolated animal population eventually becomes vulnerable. In addition, the contribution of human hunting can not be ruled out. (*) 

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Penulis: Lia Sisvita Dinatri
Editor: Lia Sisvita Dinatri
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