Five thousand years of life are added to mammoths

Previously, it was believed that mammoths became extinct about 10-12 thousand years ago, and they became extinct quite quickly. The reasons are still arguing, someone says that people here mainly tried (because of which not only mammoths disappeared, but the entire so-called megafauna), someone says that people, of course, were excellent hunters, but the climate is primarily to blame for the extinction of mammoths. One of the last works on this topic was published at the end of October in the journal Nature: it said that due to the warming that happened about 12 thousand years ago, the soil became too wet, and the mammoths began to lack the usual plants for food.

But the same article also said that in some places – for example, on Wrangel Island – mammoths lived for more than one thousand years, that is, in time they could well find the first Egyptian pyramids. Several years ago, the same was written about mammoths from St. Paul’s Island, which is near Alaska – here they disappeared about 5600 years ago. That is, obviously, speaking about the extinction of mammoths 10-12 thousand years ago, it is necessary to clarify that then the bulk of them became extinct.

However, perhaps, then, not such a mass became extinct. In a fresh article in Nature employees of McMaster University and the University of Alberta write about mammoths from the Yukon territory – they also lived here for about 5 thousand years after their “official” extinction. These mammoths, like mammoths from Wrangel Island, were found by DNA. Mammoths, like all living things, constantly lost a huge number of cells along with cellular DNA. Of course, most of the dumped organic matter was decomposed by microorganisms, but some of it remained buried in the soil. Now this DNA has been learned to extract from prehistoric archaeological layers so that it can be read without being confused with other DNA.

And here in the archaeological layers of five thousand years old, researchers have discovered the DNA of woolly mammoths and horses. The Yukon is, if anything, not an island at all, that is, about five thousand years ago, mammoths also walked the mainland. Perhaps in the future it will be possible to find five thousand-year-old mammoth bones, although if we consider that they were already extinct then, their remains of that time should be extremely rare. By the way, it is believed that American horses also disappeared about 12 thousand years ago, and only reappeared as pets. It is possible that the analysis of prehistoric DNA from the soil will force other ancient animals to shift the dates of extinction.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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