What Happened to Woolly Mammoths?

on April 3, 2010

PhysOrg: “What, or Who, Killed the Last Mammoths?What happened to the woolly mammoths? It’s a whodunit (or, rather, a “what-done-it”) mystery of extinction that rivals the question of what did in the dinosaurs.

Either a sudden, relatively catastrophic weather event or a new disease killed the mammoths.

Perhaps the definitive creationist statements on what happened to the late woolly mammoth have been authored by Michael Oard, whose Extinction of the woolly mammoth (from Frozen in Time and The extinction of the woolly mammoth: was it a quick freeze? provide explanations for the creatures’ demise near the end of the post-Flood Ice Age.

As for evolutionists reporting in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, “the final extinction” of at least one group of woolly mammoths “was caused by a relatively sudden, rather than gradual, change in the mammoths’ environment.” The team considered genetic evidence from mammoth remains from Wrangel Island, a remote Arctic island that is thought to have been home to some of the last surviving mammoths.

By reviewing the genetic variation in the mammoths from Wrangel Island, the team learned that genetic diversity had not fallen to dangerously low levels—which would have indicated that a long-term process killed the beasts. Thus, the researchers concluded that either a sudden, relatively catastrophic weather event or a new disease killed the mammoths. (They note, however, that the same circumstances may not have applied to all mammoths.)

While the research may not apply to the mammoth extinction as a whole, it does fit well with what creationists have argued regarding the extinction of the mammoths. The late woolly mammoth met its demise not over a long period of thousands and thousands of years, but instead relatively rapidly near the end of the post-Flood Ice Age period.

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