New Study Changes View of Ice Age Megafauna

Mammoth skelton located in the Southeast Bavarian Natural History and Mammoth Museum. Image credit: Lou.gruber/Wikipedia

Mammoth skeleton in the Southeast Bavarian Natural History and Mammoth Museum. Image credit: Lou.gruber/Wikipedia

A new study that analyzed DNA samples recovered from Alaskan permafrost suggests that megafauna such as woolly mammoths and ancient horses did not die off around 13,000 years ago as is commonly thought.  Instead, these animals were living in central Alaska about 10,000 years ago.  The new evidence suggest that they also could have lived as recently as 7,600 years ago.  The new study, rather than analyzing fossilized remains of an animal, analyzed DNA in the form of skin cells and feces in the permafrost samples.  The researchers conducting the study turned to permafrost because of the difficulty of finding the fossilized remains of the last Ice Age megafauna.

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