Woolly mammoths may have lived millennia later than initially believed, if new dating techniques of a recent fossil discovery are accurate. Scientists are now estimating that the originally-thought extinction date of 21,000 years ago is off... by a third.
British scientists at the Natural History Museum in London used the new techniques on skeletons of one adult male and at least four juvenile mammoths discovered the UK in 1986, and their results surprised them - and suggested a new reason why the mammoths died out:
Mammoths are conventionally believed to have become extinct in north-western Europe about 21,000 years ago during the main ice advance, known as the Last Glacial Maximum. Our new radiocarbon dating of the Condover mammoths changes that, by showing that mammoths returned to Britain and survived until around 14,000 years ago... The new dates of the mammoths' last appearance correlate very closely in time to climate changes when the open grassy habitat of the Ice Age was taken over by advancing forests, which provides a likely explanation for their disappearance. There were humans around during the time of the Condover mammoths, but no evidence of significant mammoth hunting.
Is this the first time that trees have been blamed for a species becoming extinct? And if so, is it wrong that I'm glad that it wasn't us (or, really, our ancestors) this time?
New techniques prove mammoths more recent than first thought [Independent.co.uk]