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To find out how climate change will affect many species, including humans, new research is suggesting we look into the prehistoric past. The extinct woolly mammoth may provide a model for how animals adapt - or succumb - to shifts in weather and resources.
The woolly mammoth, which once also roamed the area that is now Wisconsin, became extinct some 4,000 years ago. While the cause of the extinction has not been pinned on any one factor, the transitioning environment the mammoths faced in northern Siberia 12,000 years ago is quite similar to the global changes of the early 21st century: warmer weather, increased competition for resources, and spreading human activity.
Mammoths are an example of a species that seemed robust, having survived the very cold conditions of the last ice age. They were widely distributed, but suffered a reversal of fortune. Continental mammoths became extinct, and eventually only pockets of the giants survived on islands.