What happened to the mammoth that caused the species to go extinct in many regions?
Image via BBC
Scientists believe that a lack of water probably played a big role in their Houdini act. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Although they were commonly hunted by humans thousands of years ago in some regions, climate change reportedly affected the world around the mammoths in others, making it harder to find sources of water to drink. As a result, many of them probably died from dehydration.
Because they were creatures built for an Ice Age-like world, the Earth became a very hard place to live on as the planet started to warm up and the vast amounts of ice started to melt. When this happened, ocean water swallowed up what fresh water sources were available, leaving very little drinkable water for the creatures to slurp up.
Having to share what water was left wasn’t exactly an easy task. Many mammoths would gather into one place at once, not only consuming the limited water resources that were available, but also contaminating them and making them undrinkable.
"As the other lakes dried up, the animals congregated around the water holes. They were milling around, which would destroy the vegetation - we see this with modern elephants," said lead author Prof Russel Graham. “And this allows for the erosion of sediments to go into the lake, which is creating less and less fresh water. The mammoths were contributing to their own demise."
If mammoths were anything like elephants, they needed to drink a lot of water, and such constraints would have been detrimental to their existence. Modern elephants drink up to about 50 gallons of water each day.
This theory seems to fall in line with the lack of evidence that any human contact existed in some regions. This would rule out human hunting as a cause for their total extinction and put more fault in the planet’s climate.