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Scientists uncover new evidence showing mankind not at fault for mammoths’ extinction

Scientists claim that by the end of the mammoth fauna the soil became more humid

YEKATERINBURG, May 15. /TASS/. Scientists from the Ural department of the Russian Academy of Sciences in cooperation with researchers from Australia, the US, Canada, and Norway carried out an extensive study on the bones of ancient animals, finding new proof that mammoths became extinct because of the change in vegetation and a lack of food and not because of man, chief research associate at the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology (part of the Russian Academy of Sciences), Pavel Kosintsev. 

“We wanted to examine the changes in the ecological niches of different mammoth species, so we analyzed isotopes in the bones of mammoths that lived in various periods of time in Europe, Asia, North and South America. All of them showed the same result: at the end of the mammoth fauna – 10,000 - 14,000 years ago – the quantity of nitrogen isotopes rose sharply. This means that by the end of the mammoth fauna, the soil became more humid,” he said. 

According to the scientist, soil moistening could happen for two reasons: deglaciation and permafrost thawing. 

“Soil moistening and climate warming led to a change in vegetation from xerocolous to hydrophilous plants. Most animals that were used to xerocolous vegetation had to feed on plants that they were hygrophilous, which led to their reduction,” Kosintsev specified. 

He added that the research showed how the main species of mammoth became extinct. “The population dwindled down to a handful in number, and the species did not replenish itself. That was an ecosystem collapse, for which man was not to blame, in any way,” Kosintsev highlighted. 

It was earlier reported that scientists from the Ural department of the Russian Academy of Sciences and scientists from Australia, the UK, Denmark, Poland, the US, France and other countries conducted genetic research on the bones of an ancient bison found in Ural caves and found out that part of them belonged to an unknown ancient bison species – a hybrid of steppe bison (Bison priscus) and aurochs (Bos primigenius) that appeared about 120,000 years ago. The newly discovered species was called Bison X.