Video may have killed the radio star but something more serious took down the woolly mammoth. According to a new study recently published in the journal Science, abrupt global warming may have been what caused the mass extinction of woolly mammoths.
An investigative team from the University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide in Australia discovered that brief, quick warming occurrences also known as interstadials, recorded during the Pleistocene or last ice age (60,000-12,000 years ago) actually coincided with significant extinction events before man even walked the earth.
Alan Cooper, lead author of the study and professor at University of Adelaide, said in a statement: “This abrupt warming had a profound impact on climate that caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns. Even without the presence of humans we saw mass extinctions. When you add the modern addition of human pressures and fragmenting of the environment to the rapid changes brought by global warming, it raises serious concerns about the future of our environment.”
The researchers came to this conclusion following the detection of an actual patter, a decade ago, in numerous ancient DNA studies that indicated the quick disappearance of large species. Originally, the data seemed to suggest the extinctions were tied into “intense cold snaps.” As the scientists continued their analysis, however, they learned that abrupt warming was the true cause of the various extinctions during the last ice age or “glacial maximum.”
The complete findings in this new project provide further details regarding the truth behind the rapid extinction of not only woolly mammoths but giant sloths as well. They were both part of a group of animals that disappeared approximately 11,000 years ago at the close of the Pleistocene.
Cooper concluded: “The abrupt warming of the climate caused massive changes to the environment that set the extinction events in motion, but the rise of humans applied the coup de grace to a population that was already under stress.”
Climate Change Killed The Woolly Mammoth?