A new research has found a likely reason for the extinction of the woolly mammoth.
The paper currently on the preprint server, biorxiv, says that it was a combination of climate change and human hunting which could have led to the extinction of the mammoth.
The paper says that, were it not for human hunters, the mammoths could have lived for another 4000 years more.
There has been a debate on the extinction of the woolly mammoth. While some say its because of the change as the planet warmed after the last ice age approximately 15,000 years ago, others blame human hunters, some say its a combination of both.
A team with the Max Planck Society recently concluded that climate change drove the mammoths in North America to extinction.
Previous researchers have shown that as the planet warmed after the last ice age, woolly mammoths moved north, they survived by eating the grass that grows in cold climates.
There have also been studies showing that most of the mammoths died around 11000 years ago, and small groups of them survived in some isolated areas for a few thousand more years.
In the new research, the team created a simulation showing woolly mammoth populations from approximately 21,000 years ago, to 4,000 years ago, the time when the last of the mammoths died out. They also added climate data and human hunting data.
They ran their simulation over 90,000 times with slight changes to the factors that might have led to their demise. The results showed that the most likely cause was climate change pushing the mammoths into smaller environments and hunters finishing them.
The simulations also showed that it is likely that some mammoth populations survived for longer than has been thought in regions that have not been explored yet.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that if they removed human hunters from the simulations, most of the mammoths held on for another 4,000 years.
Damien A. Fordham et al. Humans hastened the range collapse and extinction of woolly mammoth, bioRxiv (2021). DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.17.431706