"Wooly Mammoth" by Tracy O / CC BY-SA 2.0

A new study reveals how the last woolly mammoths died out 4,000 years ago. That’s after the Egyptians had built the pyramids.

Oct 15, 2019

By Aylin Woodward

About 4,000 years ago on a remote island in the Arctic, the last woolly mammoth died out.

Elephantine in shape and size, mammoths (official name Mammuthus primigenius) dominated the northern hemisphere during Earth’s last ice age for nearly 90,000 years, before changing climates and human hunting drove them to extinction.

Scientists have uncovered mammoth skeletons and frozen carcasses everywhere from Spain to Siberia, and the understanding was that these creatures had wholly disappeared by about 11,000 years ago.

But a handful of mammoth populations survived on two tiny, isolated islands nestled between Russia and Alaska that were cut-off from the mainland by rising seas. Researchers think one of these refuges, name Wrangel Island, became the last mammoth hold-out; these tusked giants outlived their North American and European counterparts by some 7,000 years before going abruptly extinct.

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