A combination of isolation, extreme weather, and the arrival of humans on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean killed off Earth's last population of mammoths about 4,000 years ago.
The last population of woolly mammoths on Earth lived on Wrangel Island, a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, say scientists, and they died out 4,000 years ago within a very short time. A new study by an international research team suggests that a combination of isolated habitat and extreme weather events, and even the spread of prehistoric humans, was what sealed the mammoths'fate.
During the last ice age ,some 100,000 to 15,000 years ago, woolly mammoths were widespread in the northern hemisphere from Spain to Alaska. Due to the global warming that began 15,000 years ago, their habitat in Northern Siberia and Alaska shrank. On Wrangel Island, some mammoths were cut off from the mainland by rising sea levels. That population survived another 7,000 years.
The team of researchers from Finland, Germany and Russia compared mammoth bones and teeth found on Wrangel Island with other populations of mammoths. They looked at carbon and nitrogen isotopes, which provide the scientists with information on the animals' nutrition and metabolic functioning for thousands of years before they went extinct. The aim was to document possible changes in the diet of the mammoths and their habitat and find evidence of a disturbance in their environment.