‘Resurrected’ mammoth DNA helps explain why the species went extinct


As it turns out, at least one of the island’s mammoths had a string of genetic defects. There were issues with male fertility, neurological development, insulin signalling and even the ability to smell flowers. This suggests the mammoths might have been hurt by their small population size (300 to 500) and isolation from the Siberian mainland, reducing their long-term chances of survival.

This doesn’t provide a full explanation for why woolly mammoths finally died out. Most of them (along with other species) were wiped out by a changing climate that eliminated the tundra they needed to survive. It paints a clearer picture, though, and suggests technology could help solve other prehistoric mysteries.



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