Study reveals footsteps of a woolly mammoth
Walking the equivalent of twice around the world during a life-lasting 28 years, one wooly mammoth whose steps have been traced by researchers has proven the huge beast was a long-distance wanderer.
The findings, published on Aug. 12 in the journal Science, could shed light on theories about why the mammoth, whose teeth were bigger than the human fist, became extinct.
“In all popular culture - for example if you watch (the cartoon) ’Ice Age’ - there are always mammoths who move around a lot,” said Clement Bataille, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and one of the lead authors of the study.
But there is no clear reason why mammoths should have trekked great distances “because it is such an enormous animal that moving around uses a lot of energy,” he told AFP.
The researchers were amazed by the results: The mammoth they studied probably walked around 70,000 kilometers, and did not stay just on the plains of Alaska as they expected. “We see that it traveled throughout Alaska, so an immense territory,” said Bataille.
Whether for genetic diversity, or due to scarce resources, it is “clear that this species needed an extremely large area” to live,” said Bataille.
Understanding factors that led to the disappearance of mammoths may help protect other threatened megafauna species.