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Mammoths Were Alive More Recently Than Thought

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posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:12 PM
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www.livescience.com...



Mammoths Were Alive More Recently Than Thought

By LiveScience Staff

posted: 15 December 2009 11:59 am ET

Woolly mammoths and other large beasts in North America may not have gone extinct as long ago as previously thought.

The new view — that pockets of beasts survived to as recently as 7,600 years ago, rather than the previous end times mark of 12,000 years ago — is supported by DNA evidence found in a few pinches of dirt.

After plucking ancient DNA from frozen soil in central Alaska, researchers uncovered "genetic fossils" of both mammoths and horses locked in permafrost samples dated to between 10,500 and 7,600 years ago.

"We don't know how long it takes to pinch out a species," said Ross MacPhee, Curator of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History. "Extinctions often seem dramatic and sudden in fossil records, but our study provides an idea of what an extinction event might look like in real time, with imperiled species surviving in smaller and smaller numbers until eventually disappearing completely."

At the end of the Pleistocene, the geological epoch roughly spanning 2.5 million years ago to 12,000 years ago, many of the world's megafauna — giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, stag-moose, and mammoths — vanished from the geological record. Some large species such as Equus caballus, the species from which the domestic horse derives, became extinct in North America but persisted in small populations elsewhere.

Scientists have blamed the extinctions on everything from human overhunting to a comet impact to the introduction of novel infectious diseases.

The swiftness of the extinctions, however, is not suggested directly by the fossils themselves but is inferred from radiocarbon dating of bones and teeth discovered on the surface or buried in the ground, the researchers involved in the new study point out. Current "macrofossil" evidence places the last-known mammoths and wild horses between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago.

But hard remains of animals are rarely preserved, difficult to find, and laborious to accurately date because of physical degradation, the scientists said in a statement today.

So MacPhee and colleagues decided to tackle the problem by dating the creatures through dirt. Frozen sediments from the far north of Siberia and Canada can preserve small fragments of animal and plant DNA exceptionally well, even in the complete absence of any visible organic remains, such as bone or wood.

"In principle, you can take a pinch of dirt collected under favorable circumstances and uncover an amazing amount of forensic evidence regarding what species were on the landscape at the time," said co-researcher Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen.

The team collected soil cores from undisturbed Alaskan permafrost. Two independent methods (radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence) were used to date plant remains and individual mineral grains found in the same layers as the DNA.

"With these two techniques, we can be confident that the deposits from which the DNA was recovered haven't been contaminated since these lost giants last passed this way," said Richard Roberts of the University of Wollongong in Australia. "It's a genetic graveyard, frozen in time."

The core samples revealed the local Alaskan fauna at the end of the last Ice Age. The oldest sediments, dated to about 11,000 years ago, contain remnant DNA of Arctic hare, bison, and moose; all three animals were also found in higher, more recent layers, as would be expected. But one core, deposited between 10,500 and 7,600 years ago, confirmed the presence of both mammoth and horse DNA.

The team also developed a statistical model to show that mammoth and horse populations would have dwindled to a few hundred individuals by 8,000 years ago.

"At this point, mammoths and horses were barely holding on. We may actually be working with the DNA of some of the last members of these species in North America," said team member Duane Froese of the University of Alberta in Canada.

The findings are detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


I found this extremely interesting. If this turns out to be true, it calls into question the reasons given by scientists for the extinction of the mammoths, including the theory that an asteroid wiped them out.




posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:17 PM
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Native american legends speak of creatures that could only be mammoths, as do Siberian native legends.

It seems likely that Mammoths survived until very recent, even historical, times. ...and who knows, maybe in some forgotten stretch of forest in Canada or Siberia a small population still lives.

Would that be cool, or what?



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:21 PM
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reply to post by hephalump
 





Would that be cool, or what?

Yes, it certainly would. Remember that the Selacamp was thought to be extinct until a fisherman caught one.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:25 PM
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Interesting info, flagged & starred.


Originally posted by ProfEmeritus
Remember that the Selacamp was thought to be extinct until a fisherman caught one.


Do you maybe mean coelacanth?



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:35 PM
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reply to post by MrDesolate
 

Yes, thanks for the correction.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:37 PM
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We know mammoths survived until at least 5,000 years ago on Wrangel Island in the Arctic. I see no reason some couldn't have lasted nearly as long on the mainland, both in Canada and Siberia. This is certainly an interesting study and thanks for bringing it to our attention



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:41 PM
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reply to post by ProfEmeritus
 


Wasn't sure it was a correction. You're the Prof, I'm just a random goof. Thanks for the clarification.

This does make you wonder how much we really know, though. I watched something a couple of months ago on Discovery Channel maybe, about a search for living pterodactyls. They made a very compelling case for the possibility.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:44 PM
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reply to post by MrDesolate
 





I watched something a couple of months ago on Discovery Channel maybe, about a search for living pterodactyls. They made a very compelling case for the possibility.

Yes, thanks. I saw that episode also. I agree that they certainly made a compelling argument. I think there are a lot of things that we still don't know about, including a great number of species in the deep of the oceans, where life began.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:44 PM
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reply to post by ProfEmeritus
 


There are crazy people who believe these beasts are coming from within the hollow earth and just getting lost. There was a young perfectly preserved mammoth found somewhere near the north pole and I remember it was said this beast could not possibly have been left from prehistoric times due to the degree of preservation. Not too many people believed this though. I often wonder...

www.unexplainedstuff.com... The following is an excerpt from this link...

[The open poles theory promoted by Symmes had been effectively undermined, but the belief in the Hollow Earth would only grow more popular. In 1846, the remains of a woolly mammoth, a creature long extinct, were discovered perfectly preserved in ice in Siberia. So suddenly had it been frozen, that the mammoth had not yet digested pine cones it had recently eaten. It was theorized that the animal had been caught by a climate change, but many questioned that such a change could have happened so quickly and thoroughly. Some people believed the animal had wandered out from the Hollow Earth through a hole at the North Pole]


[edit on 16-12-2009 by rusethorcain]



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:53 PM
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There was obviously a near extinction event and then we must have hunted the remainder down...

Great thread this completely balances the Two Extinction theories for mammoths.

I also say it's fairly exciting because even if (which there most likely are not) there isn't a couple hanging around this lowers the date we might get a chance find of frozen mammoth by a good 7000 years, the right find and we have a superior chance perhaps of cloning them.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:56 PM
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Originally posted by Essan
We know mammoths survived until at least 5,000 years ago on Wrangel Island in the Arctic. I see no reason some couldn't have lasted nearly as long on the mainland, both in Canada and Siberia. This is certainly an interesting study and thanks for bringing it to our attention


Miniature dwarf mammoths - but mammoths nonetheless.

If they have survived anywhere, it's in the vast Taiga forests in Russia. I really doubt they could be up in Canada without some evidence of their passing. Unless they are the dwarf version of course.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 02:59 PM
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Cool find
I recall reading something some time back about a pygmy mammoth that lived in Siberia past the extinction date. I don't think its a far stretch to speculate that some may have survived till recently.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 04:19 PM
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great indeed.

it would make some ancient building complexes easier to explain, probably they haven't been build by human power alone.

I guess a fully grown mammoth can easily pull a ton of weight.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 05:15 PM
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reply to post by ProfEmeritus
 


I thought that was interesting since, well, they can't be that hard to find!




posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 08:24 PM
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reply to post by DaMod
 

Thanks for the link. I had seen the special done on it several months ago, but couldn't locate any video or pictures. Thanks again. Flagged.



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 08:59 PM
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reply to post by ProfEmeritus
 

I found the information on pockets of dwarf mammoths surprising and shocking in that their survival was so recent:

"During the last ice age, woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) lived on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean. It has been shown that mammoths survived on Wrangel Island until 1700 B.C.E., the most recent survival of any known mammoth population. They also survived on Saint Paul Island in the Bering Sea until 6000 B.C.E."

Wow, that's into historical times!!!!!
Saw it somewhere on National Geographic, but my current source is:
en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 09:19 PM
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reply to post by halfoldman
 

Here is the information that I found on the Yukon Beringia site:
www.beringia.com...

Woolly mammoths could not cope with the rapidly changing environment and increasing human predation toward the close of the last glaciation, and most became extinct about 11,000 years ago. However in 1993 came the startling announcement that dwarf woolly mammoths radiocarbon dated between 7,000 and 3,700 years ago lived on Wrangel Island. So while the pyramids and Stonehenge were being built in Egypt and England respectively, dwarf mammoths roamed the relic mammoth steppe on this small island off the coast of northeastern Siberia!


To present both sides, though, I should point out that many scientists are not convinced that the dwarf mammoths are actually part of the mammoth family.




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