More about mammoths : The Ice Ages

Where Did All of the Large Mammals Go?

About 10,000-12,000 years ago most of the large mammals from the Ice Ages went extinct. Paleontologists are trying to understand why this happened. There are two possible ideas.

The first one has to do with climate. About 12,800 to 11,500 years ago, it became very cold, changing the environment in which these large mammals lived. Paleontologists think the cool weather may have reduced the amount of food available for these large animals.

The second idea has to do with humans. Humans arrived in North America about 13,000 years ago. They were hunters and killed large mammals for food.

How do we know?

There are several fossil sites in the southwest US where mammoth bones containing spear heads have been found. Paleontologists think that maybe humans hunted the large mammals to extinction.

What's the answer?

There is a lot of debate among paleontologists about whether climate or humans led to the extinction of these large mammals. Today, however, most paleontologists think it is a combination of both reasons. The cool weather may have diminished their food resources making it easier for humans to hunt them to extinction.

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