The woolly mammoth die-off was even sadder than you think

Popular Science | 3/2/2017 | Staff
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Mammoths have long captivated our imaginations. They’re big—about the size of Asian elephants—and, at least to my mind, they’re pretty cute. In the last ice age, we drew them on cave walls. Today, we’re still pumping out a seemingly unending kid’s movie franchise of debatable quality dedicated to them.

But our fascination may have helped to kill them off—along with rising temperatures. By about 10,000 years ago, they’d been heated and hunted into extinction, except for a small population stranded on Wrangel Island. The shipwrecked community survived for another few thousand years with just 300 or so individuals.

Subset - Population - Hunting - World - Genes

Though this small subset of the population had survived human hunting and a warming world, they were eventually undone by bad genes, says the study's lead author Rebekah Rogers. Because the population was small, it had very little genetic diversity. Unhelpful—or downright hurtful—genes were more likely to persist in the population and become more common as time went on.

“I’ve wanted to work on woolly...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Popular Science
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