While sudden changes to Earth’s climate may have played a part in the demise of the mammoth and other large mammals that roamed the Earth’s surface 10,000 or so years ago, scientists are increasingly beginning to argue that human influence was significant.
When the ice age ended and temperature and climate became more amenable, vast areas of the world became habitable by humans, who advanced northwards exploring new territories.
As humans spread out they came into contact with woolly mammoths, which they hunted.
Humans hunted mammoths for their meat, bones and skin.
Some scientists believe that a poor habitat as a result of climate change, combined with increased contact and hunting by humans as they increasingly entered their areas of habitat led to their eventual extinction. The mammoth population was at such a low ebb by the time that they were hunted by humans some experts argue that even if every human on the planet at the time killed a mammoth once every three years, the woolly mammoth would have become extinct.
So, while climate change dealt the mammoth a crippling blow, it may have been human hunters who landed the killer blow in sealing their fate as an extinct species.
Meteorites or Comets
Research in 2007 revealed that the demise of the woolly mammoth, in North America at least, may have actually been caused by the sudden impact of a meteorite or comet hitting the Earth.
Scientists from Brown University, in Rhode Island, USA, believe that they have found evidence of an asteroid hitting the Earth, which led to the extinction of large mammals, including the woolly mammoth in North America, as a result of massive climate change.
The scientists argue that a large asteroid or comets would have hit North America, leading to the melting of ice sheets, extreme wildfires and the whipping up of hurricane force winds, which in turn led to the extreme ‘big freeze’ cooling of what is referred to as the Younger Dryas Period.
The Younger Dryas period took place an estimated 10,000 or so years ago, when the world was heating up from the last ice age. However, it was a short-lived (700 years) cold snap that had a massive effect on the climate of North America and Europe.