Rises in temperature correspond with timing of animal die-offs, new study shows
Rapid climate change put mega-sized Ice Age mammals on the ropes before ancient humans delivered the final blow, new research indicates.
During Earth’s last glacial period, around 12,000 to 110,000 years ago, woolly mammoths, sedan-sized armadillos and other massive mammals walked the land. Over time, these megafauna mostly died out. The instigator of these extinctions has become a topic of heated debate among scientists, with fingers pointed at both ancient humans and sustained frigid temperatures.
After analyzing an exhaustive record of both animal population and climate changes, researchers report online July 23 in Science that neither suspect was the primary megafauna killer. Die-offs in Eurasia and the Americas largely coincided with short bursts of intense warming, with several taking place before humans left Africa, the researchers found. Extinction rates jumped, however, once humans