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Mammoths in Alaska 8,000 years ago, detected through DNA

SEWilco (27983) writes | more than 4 years ago

User Journal 1

DNA traces of mammoths have been detected in Alaska. "Sedimentary ancient DNA" (sedaDNA) was found in permafrost containing material from 11,000 to 7,000 years ago. This indicates that some mammoths survived the extinction event 13,000 years ago which wiped out many large mammals across North America.

DNA traces of mammoths have been detected in Alaska. "Sedimentary ancient DNA" (sedaDNA) was found in permafrost containing material from 11,000 to 7,000 years ago. This indicates that some mammoths survived the extinction event 13,000 years ago which wiped out many large mammals across North America.

1 comment

Interesting point in article about "event" concept (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539896)

I didn't think of it this way before, but the author points out that fossils are extremely rare. They represent a tiny, tiny fraction of the past population that died in a specific way in a specific place, and as such they are poor indicators of "events". (Especially in the way humans define "events" as being a point in time, rather than a large range of time.)

The oldest fossil may be 13,000 years old, but that doesn't mean the last mammoth died 13,000 years ago. It's hard to see the pattern of millions of creatures over an age when it's only represented by the few dozen samples we've dug up.

So as this article points out, extinction didn't happen overnight, it happened over the course of millennia. And we don't know how many mammoths shared the same cause of death. It could have been hunting, it could have been disease, or it could have been something totally ridiculous, such as herds migrating to ice-packs to feed on seals and the ice packs floating south drowning the trapped beasts. So there was no real "extinction event", apart from the day the very last mammoth died. It might be better to claim an "extinction age" or "extinction pressures".

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