Navigation Links
Being good moms couldn't save the woolly mammoth

New research from The University of Western Ontario leads investigators to believe that woolly mammoths living north of the Arctic Circle during the Pleistocene Epoch (approx. 150,000 to 40,000 years ago) began weaning infants up to three years later than modern day African elephants due to prolonged hours of darkness.

This adapted nursing pattern could have contributed to the prehistoric elephant's eventual extinction. The findings were published recently in the journal, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

By studying the chemical composition of adult and infant mammoth teeth, Jessica Metcalfe, an Earth Sciences PhD student working with professor Fred Longstaffe, was able to determine woolly mammoths that once inhabited Old Crow, Yukon didn't begin eating plants and other solid foods before the age of two (and perhaps as late as three) and considers predatory mammals like saber-toothed cats and a lack of sufficient vegetation to be the secondary reasons for delayed weaning.

"In modern Africa, lions can hunt baby elephants but not adults. They can't kill adults. But they can kill babies and by and large, they tend to be successful when they hunt at night because they have adapted night vision," explains Metcalfe, who examined fossil specimens alongside Grant Zazula of the Yukon Paleontology Program. "In Old Crow, where you have long, long hours of darkness, the infants are going to be more vulnerable, so the mothers nursed longer to keep them close."

Metcalfe says delayed weaning by Old Crow mammoths may have further significance for understanding mammoth life histories and extinction.

"Today, a leading cause of infant elephant deaths in Myanmar is insufficient maternal milk production," offers Metcalfe. "Woolly mammoths may have been more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and human hunting than modern elephants not only because of their harsher environment, but also because of the metabolic demands of lactation and prolonged nursing, especially during the longer winter months."

Metcalfe concludes that knowing more about the past, can only help researchers understand more about the present and the future.

"Mammoths lived all over the world for thousands of years, even millions of years, and then became extinct about 10,000 years ago, which was around the time the climate started warming the last time," says Metcalfe. "Understanding their ecology, their adaptations and their behaviour not only gives us insight into why they became extinct but also, potentially, gives us a better understanding of modern day mammals and how they might respond to the current warming of the planet."


Contact: Jeff Renaud
519-661-2111 x85165
University of Western Ontario

Related biology news :

1. Study suggests that being too clean can make people sick
2. Biodiesel from sewage sludge within pennies a gallon of being competitive
3. Selected highlights of the research being presented at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting
4. The cost of being on your toes
5. Geneticists coordinate action to fight against traffic in human beings
6. Being a standout has its benefits, study shows
7. DNA against traffic in human beings
8. Fear of being laughed at crosses cultural boundaries
9. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev technology being developed for use in Jordan desalination plant
10. Now butterflies are also being counted in China, Australia and Israel
11. Scientists capture the first image of memories being made
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Weather Company , an IBM Business (NYSE: IBM ... which consumers will be able to interact with IBM Watson ... or text and receive relevant information about the product or ... long sought an advertising solution that can create a one-to-one ... valuable; and can scale across millions of interactions and touchpoints. ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... 2016   EyeLock LLC , a market leader ... of an IoT Center of Excellence in ... development of embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s ... and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the ... DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016: ... up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% ... 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M ... revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... published their findings on what they believe could be a new and helpful ... the new research. Click here to read it now. , Biomarkers ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design company ... as one of the World Economic Forum,s Technology ... companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to manufacture ... the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. The ... Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for their ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Seattle, WA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... technology, announces the release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and ... patient recruitment and retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as ... the agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship ... and connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring ...
Breaking Biology Technology: