07102020

Last woolly mammoths ‘died of thirst’

Woolly MammothImage copyright
Science Photo Library

Image caption

The mammoths on St Paul Island outlived their mainland cousins by thousands of years

One of the last known groups of woolly mammoths died out because of a lack of drinking water, scientists believe.

The Ice Age beasts were living on a remote island off the coast of Alaska, and scientists have dated their demise to about 5,600 years ago.

They believe that a warming climate caused lakes to become shallower, leaving the animals unable to quench their thirst.

Most of the world’s woolly mammoths had died out by about 10,500 years ago.

Scientists believe that human hunting and environmental changes played a role in their extinction.

But the group living on St Paul Island, which is located in the Bering Sea, managed to cling on for another 5,000 years.

This study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that these animals faced a different threat from their mainland cousins.

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