BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Researchers have conducted genetic tests on the remains of 98 different specimens of woolly mammoths and determined that more than two-thirds of them were male. According to the latest study, this fact may provide insight into how these extinct animals lived.
Woolly Mammoths and the Reason Why They’re Gone Now?
These giant mammals, scientifically known as Mammuthus primigenius, are similar to elephants. They disappeared about 4,000 years ago, and are believed to have gone extinct due to a combination of the climate warming and humans hunting them for their meat and bones. Specimens with still useful and reliable DNA traces have been found, however.
These remains were preserved after the animals in question died from natural disasters, explained Love Dalen, co-author of the study and a researcher part of the Swedish Museum of Natural History. He points out that the specimens, which were discovered in present-day Siberia, are very well preserved. However, Dalen also points out that they are unlikely to have been buried, “and thus protected from weathering.”
According to the study paper published in Current Biology, 69 percent of the analyzed woolly mammoths were male. Assuming that the sexes were divided up evenly, this is an interesting find that leads to a new question: why is it that female corpses disappeared while males were preserved?
The best theory researchers can find, at least at the moment, comes from the mammoths’ closest living relatives. Among modern-day elephants, females travel in herds led by an older matriarch. The only males included are babies, who leave the group and live on their own once they get older.
Assuming that mammoths lived the same way, it could lead to a more dangerous lifestyle. One that might have resulted in more males succumbing to dangers.
“Without the benefit of living in a herd led by an experienced female, male mammoths may have had a higher risk of dying in natural traps such as bogs, crevices, and lakes,” Dalen explained.
Meanwhile, females generally had less dramatic deaths that don’t seem to have left their bodies preserved.
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