Recent mammoth-related buzz in the news:
1. A paper in the journal Nature proposes that the diet of woolly mammoths (and other herbivores of that time) may have caused their extinction:
Fifty thousand years of Arctic vegetation and megafaunal diet:
Not all paleontologists agree. As noted in the NPR post above, at least one does not:
…Daniel Fisher, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan, says the new work…does show that both vanished around the same time. But he also studies mammoth poop. And it makes great fertilizer. So maybe it was the other way around: the flowers needed the mammoths’ poop to grow, so when the mammoths started to disappear …
“It becomes difficult to sort out what part of it is cause, and what part of it is effect,” Fisher says. He also points out that present-day elephants can survive just fine on grass and shrubs.
2. A large mammoth tusk was discovered at a construction site in Seattle, WA. The landowner very generously donated this to the Burke Museum:
3. Members of a family in Wichita, KS found a mammoth bone in the Arkansas River:
4. An article in the New York Times describes in depth the possibility of recreating a mammoth:
**Many thanks to Ellen G., who was the first to let me know about this article, and to Ron G., who was among the others who did!
5. A new paper suggests that mammoths were not stampeded over cliffs by Neanderthals at La Cotte de St. Brelade in Jersey (an island off of the coast of France):
A new view from La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey:
From the article above:
Researchers have found that the plateau that ends at the cliff edge was so rocky and uneven that mammoths and other weighty beasts would never have ventured up there. Even if the creatures had clambered so high, the Neanderthals would have had to chase them down a steep dip and back up the other side long before the animals reached the cliff edge and plunged to their doom.
“I can’t imagine a way in which Neanderthals would have been able to force mammoths down this slope and then up again before they even got to the edge of the headland,” said Beccy Scott, an archaeologist at the British Museum. “And they’re unlikely to have got up there in the first place.”
Coming up in the near future on Mostly Mammoths, Mummies and Museums:
1. A discussion with Asier Larramendi and Rubén Molina about research, paleoart, science and their exciting company, Eofauna: http://eofauna.com/en
2. An interview with paleontologist, Ronald Richards, about the fascinating mastodon and mammoth exhibit currently available at the Indiana State Museum: http://www.indianamuseum.org/
3. A look at the 6th International Conference on Mammoths and their Relatives–this year in Greece–with PhD student, Evangelos Vlachos, who is one of the organizers of the event: http://www.mammothconference.com/