Scientists decipher probable reason of woolly mammoth’s extinction

Woolly mammoths became totally extinct nearly 4,000 years ago, and a team of geneticists have now deciphered the probable reason for the ancient gigantic species’ demise.

A few woolly mammoths survived north of the eastern tip of Siberia after they endured for nearly 6,000 years after the species of the mainland had vanished. A team of geneticists led by Dr. Rebekah Rogers of UC Berkeley analyzed a tooth of a male mammoth and found that the last members of the species were plagued with genetic disease.

Their research suggested that the last woolly mammoths to walk on our planet were so much affected by genetic disease that they had lost their sense of smell, shirked company, and had developed a weird glossy coat.

Sharing their findings, Dr. Rebekah added, “You had this last refuge of mammoths after everything has gone extinct on the mainland. The mathematical theories that have been developed said that they should accumulate bad mutations because natural selection should become very inefficient.”

The researchers reached the conclusion after comparing DNA of a mammoth from 4,000 years ago with the DNA of a mammoth that lived nearly 45,000 years ago when the populations of the massive creature were much larger.

The findings could inform conservation efforts for endangered living wild animals. For instance, fewer than 100 Asiatic cheetahs and just around 300 mountain gorillas are left in the wild.