Extinction of the Mammoths Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1484 Words
Date:  2022-08-18

Mammoths survived through varied climatic conditions, inhabiting North America and Eurasia 300,000 years BP (before present) and vanished around 36000 years before present in the Holocene. Debates on the extinction of the mammoths surround human-induced activities and environmental effects although the testing of the hypothesis is often hampered by difficulties in the generation of quantitative correlational estimates between the extinction of the species and increased human pressure. Martin (2005) posts that many different forces can trigger extinction as it is evident throughout human history on earth, with his explanation pointing out extinctive causes such as diseases, climate change, meteor strikes, nutrient shortages amongst others. Nonetheless, he echoes the argument of other scholars and researchers, contending that the "ecological shock" of the arrival of humans on earth and subsequent effect of their activities forms the most feasible and reasonable explanation for the extinction of species (Nogues-Bravo et al., 2008; Martin, 2005). In his argument, he asserts that the spread of human species to other continents, oceanic islands, and the atmosphere has wiped out large mammals while extinguishing smaller mammals and flightless species. Interestingly, he also contends that although climate change is a phenomenal subject, it is not effective in the formulation of explanations.

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In what is termed as an "overkill" explanation, researchers believe that the predation f animal populations have been on the increase under their watch more than the additional predation that they sustained before human arrival. In any event, human beings have contributed significantly to the extinction owing to their introduction as either disease vectors, predators or competitors (Martin, 2005). DNA studies reveal evidence demonstrating that climate change has had far more significant impacts on the extinction of mammoths than previously thought. As best-researched species, the abundance of the animals as former habitats of the earth in high-quality samples and fossil records is evidence of a stable and large population up until the time when they encountered the increasing pressure of human presence and activities. An in-depth analysis of the DNA variations in different regions reveals that the mammoth population (in millions) scattered into northern strongholds that were somewhat isolated during the colder periods of the world, after which the numbers plummeted to multiple tens of thousands once the climate was warm enough. Reports, therefore, argue that there is a likelihood that environmental changes and human pressure played significant roles in shaping the demographic history of mammoths as warm climatic periods restrict the number of available habitats whereas cold climates lead to population expansion. Works of literature suggesting that humans delivered a final wiping blow to the mammoth species through hunting animals for fur, tusks and food lack evidence-based data to augment their theories. It is in that regard that other scholars attribute the extinction of mammoths to migration, expansion and local destruction (Nogues-Bravo et al., 2008).

Conservation paleo-ecologists study past natural experiments that entail extinction and climate change to gain a better understanding of the ecology of the current warming, fragmented world. Paleontologists favor climate change as the most realistic and ultimate explanation for the prehistoric extinction of mammoths, among other terrestrial vertebrates in ancient Americas. Admittedly, testing the hypothesis of the evidential involvement of human beings in mammoth predation and extinction is critical in the revelation of the exact periods of extinction versus the period when human arrival triggered the extinction. Radiocarbon tests reveal that mammoths patiently endured the climatic changes and human wrangles until 4000 years ago during the era of pharaohs. Researchers recently set the extinction time of mammoths from the Western part of North America at 13000 years ago (Martin, 2005). On the same account, geological dates on the San Miguel dwarf mammoths off the California Coast contend in age with mainland mammoths, suggesting that Americas bypassed the Pribilofs and Wrangle as temporary Refugio. Going by the dates of extinction for Neanderthals, 50,000 years ago, the mammoths became extinct from Americas 13,000 years ago. In the Greater Antilles, the dwarf ground sloths became extinct in the postglacial era as the megalonychid ground sloths embraced the American continent. Hence the extinction of mammoths in the Greater Antilles occurred approximately 5,000 years ago with the extinction of thousands of taxa occurring in the Marquesas, Easter Island, and Hawaii about 1500 years ago. The moas became extinct 500 years ago in New Zealand hence an articulate reflection of the significant and increasing spread of human species throughout planet earth (Martin, 2005).

Model studies reveal that the dramatic decline in suitable climatic conditions resulted in significant plummeting of the mammoth population as they were more vulnerable to the increased hunting pressure from the ever-expanding human population. The Coup de grace, as termed by paleontologists, set the appropriate place and time for mammoth extinction following a coincidence of the climatic collapse of environmentally suitable areas and increased anthropogenic influences in the Holocene. Although data outlines evidence of coexistence humans and mammoths, some authors posit suggestions supporting previous analyses that relate the contraction of the geographical range of mammoths to anthropogenic and environmental factors based on descriptive and qualitative approaches. In so doing, the researchers combine the dynamic population model and the climate model to investigate the extent of correlation between human pressure through activities such as hunting, climatic change and the mammoth extinction (Nogues-Bravo et al., 2008).

An in-depth exploration of the factors surrounding the survival of the mammoth through the earlier interglacial period and not the current Holocene warm period is vital towards understanding the mechanism underlying its extinction. Theories on the disappearance of species are often grounded on a number of paradigms that consider the factors which generally contribute to the decline of animal species as the cumulative populations become minimally limited and ultimately rare. This paradigm is referred to as the declining-species paradigm. On the other hand, the other paradigm entails the demographic and genetic factors which may contribute to the extinction of small animal populations, often regarded as the small-population paradigm. The paradigms, as mentioned above have been primarily employed by authors in a bid to establish the causal factors for the extinction of the mammoth. The general facets of their findings significantly relate the contribution of human activities and climatic changes to the extinction of the mammoth species. In perspective, the final extinction of the mammoth species might have been as a result of the combined effects of environmental changes and human impacts which entails both extinction paradigms from contentious frameworks of metapopulational dynamics. This is only possible through the quantification of the magnitude of human pressure and climatic changes that posed serious conditions that made the animals too vulnerable to survive in the areas that were once suitable for their survival. This is because the suitable climatic conditions became severely and drastically relegated at 6000 years before present (6 KY BP). In fact, most authors believe that some mammoth populations would have survived in the changing climatic conditions had there not been immense human pressure through hunting. This, according to them, would have been possible as they would have adopted to suboptimal habitats, surviving in small pockets of the best available and suitable habitat as must have happened when the climate conditions were fairly unfavorable at 126 KY BP (Nogues-Bravo et al., 2008).


Analyses suggest that the coup de grace applied by human beings on the available habitat and the optimal size of the climatic surface area available was too small in the mid-Holocene to host both populations and still withstand the increasing human hunting pressure. Arguably, both human impacts and climate change progressively cornered and narrowed the survival chances of the mammoth species in the Arctic Siberian land masses and some Arctic islands in the northernmost land leaving them no option for survival but extinction (Nogues-Bravo et al., 2008). However, as suggested by several authors and paleontologists, more surveys ought to be conducted to determine whether the mammoth species were able to survive during the Holocene era while examining, through empirical studies, why they were excluded, disappearing entirely from the regions and ultimately, from the face of the world. Most importantly, as Martin (2005) rightfully argues, the times and exact times of mammoths need to be understood before authors and scientists make any claims on the knowledge of the true potential and nature of planet Earth. While some authors argue that the mammoths disappeared 13000 years ago, others say that the Americans destroyed the Pleistocene mammals while others posit that the mammoths vanished in the Holocene. However, one argument stands out; both researchers and authors on this phenomenal subject tend to contend that human activities and climate change played a significant role in the disappearance of the mammoths, prompting the contemporary society to ponder on the impulses of preservation and conservation. This will ultimately awaken the compelling need for efforts and campaigns towards attaining global sustainability and save the Delta Smelt.


Martin, P. S. (2005). Twilight of the Mammoths. University of California Press, 250, 262-272.

Nogues-Bravo, D., Rodriguez, J., Hortal, J., Batra, P., & Araujo, M. B. (2008). Climate change, humans, and the extinction of the woolly mammoth. PLoS biology, 6(4), e79.

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Extinction of the Mammoths Essay Example. (2022, Aug 18). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/extinction-of-the-mammoths-essay-example

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