Until about 10,000 years ago, mammoths roamed mainland North America. Mammoths survived longer in other places, namely the Alaskan island of Saint Paul and the Russian island of Wrangel, where teeth have been discovered dating to only around 4,000 years ago.
St Paul is a volcanic island that until around 9,000 years ago was connected to the mainland by the Bering Land Bridge, which enabled animals to roam freely to and fro.
But as the climate warmed and sea levels rose, it became isolated – and the mammoths were trapped.
The good news was that the mammoths were the only large mammals on the island, and no predators were present on the place. And so the mammoths thrived on the little island for quite a time, until something about the lake changed.
Dr. Beth Shapiro, a paleo-geneticist, explains to us the events behind the extinction of the mammoths on the Alaskan island of St. Paul, and what we can learn from this event in prehistory.
More details about this over at Big Think.
(Image Credit: Thomas Quine/ Wikimedia Commons)