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Mammoths stranded on Bering Sea island delayed extinction
University of Alaska Fairbanks ^ | 16-Jun-2004 | Contact: Marie Gilbert

Posted on 06/17/2004 8:07:34 PM PDT by ckilmer

Public release date: 16-Jun-2004 Contact: Marie Gilbert marie.gilbert@uaf.edu 907-474-7412 University of Alaska Fairbanks

Mammoths stranded on Bering Sea island delayed extinction Fossil is first record in the Americas of a mammoth population to have survived the Pleistocene Woolly mammoths stranded on Pribilofs delayed extinction Fossil is first record in the Americas of a mammoth population to have survived the Pleistocene St. Paul, one of the five islands in the Bering Sea Pribilofs, was home to mammoths that survived the extinctions that wiped out mainland and other Bering Sea island mammoth populations.

In an article in the June 17, 2004 edition of the journal Nature, R. Dale Guthrie, professor emeritus at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, says that when mammoths on the mainland of Alaska and other Bering Sea islands died out during the extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene era (about 11,000 years ago) those on the Pribilofs survived and new radiocarbon dates show how.

It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time and the mammoth tooth fossil that demonstrates Guthrie's point is the first record in the Americas of a mammoth population surviving the Pleistocene.

"During the last glacial maximum, when the sea level was about 120 meters below its current level, what are now the Pribilofs were simply uplands connected to the mainland by a large, flat plain," Guthrie said.

Using accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dating, bathymetric (water depth) plots, and sea transgression rates from the Bering Sea, Guthrie found that the mammoths became stranded on the Pribilofs about 13,000 years ago during the Holocene sea level rise after the last glacial maximum.

"Woolly mammoths became extinct on the mainland about 11,500 radiocarbon years ago," Guthrie said. At that time St. Lawrence Island was part of the Alaska mainland and presumably subject to the same extinction pressures as the mainland, but St. Paul had been an island for about 1,500 years.

"Radiocarbon-dated samples from St. Lawrence Island show similar dates of extinction to the mainland," Guthrie said, "but a sample from St. Paul dates to only 7,908 radiocarbon years old, into the mid-Holocene, which is much later."

The mammoths were able to survive on St. Paul so long as the island provided enough grazing forage and there were sufficient numbers of animals to prevent inbreeding pressures, Guthrie said, and at its present size of 36 square miles is too small to sustain a permanent mammoth population. St. Paul became that size about 5,000 years ago, so mammoths likely became extinct prior to that time.

St. Paul lies about 300 miles west of the Alaska mainland, and 750 air miles west of Anchorage.

### Contact information:

R. Dale Guthrie, professor emeritus Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 907-479-6034, ffrdg@uaf.edu

Marie Gilbert, publications and information coordinator, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 907-474-7412, marie.gilbert@uaf.edu.

PDF of Guthrie's Nature article, "Radiocarbon evidence of mid-Holocene mammoths stranded on an Alaskan Bering Sea island" and an image of Dale Guthrie holding a mammoth molar are available by contacting Marie Gilbert, 907-474-7412, marie.gilbert@uaf.edu.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Alaska
KEYWORDS: beringsea; extinction; godsgravesglyphs; holocene; mammoth; mammoths; mammothtoldme; pleistocene; pribilofs; siberia; wrangelisland
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1 posted on 06/17/2004 8:07:36 PM PDT by ckilmer
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To: blam

ping


2 posted on 06/17/2004 8:09:11 PM PDT by Rebelbase ( aka Gassybrowneyedbum)
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To: ckilmer
Rules out volcanic dust ... etc.

St. Paul, one of the five islands in the Bering Sea Pribilofs, was home to mammoths that survived the extinctions that wiped out mainland and other Bering Sea island mammoth populations.

3 posted on 06/17/2004 8:13:13 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: ckilmer

My interpretation: Man caused the extinction of the mammoth. These mammoths were on an island, protected from man, but eventually succumbed.


4 posted on 06/17/2004 8:14:09 PM PDT by Brilliant
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To: ckilmer

I remember reading of an isolated population of mammoths on an island off Siberia, surviving well after the mainland population became extinct. The individual mammoths on the island became smaller in stature before finally going extinct.


5 posted on 06/17/2004 8:14:30 PM PDT by edwin hubble
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To: Brilliant

Most of the large mammals in North America mysteriously became extinct after the arrival of native Americans.


6 posted on 06/17/2004 8:16:56 PM PDT by edwin hubble
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To: ckilmer

I still can't figure out how species began as a single-mated pair and then thousands of generations later succumbed to in-breeding pressures.


7 posted on 06/17/2004 8:20:07 PM PDT by Old Professer (lust; pure, visceral groin-grinding, sweat-popping, heart-pounding staccato bursts of shooting stars)
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To: edwin hubble

Atkins!


8 posted on 06/17/2004 8:21:02 PM PDT by Old Professer (lust; pure, visceral groin-grinding, sweat-popping, heart-pounding staccato bursts of shooting stars)
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To: edwin hubble

It was on Wrangel Island.


9 posted on 06/17/2004 8:22:13 PM PDT by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: edwin hubble

The evidence is overwhelming it was human hunting....

The authour of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" thinks it was and that's one of the greates books I've ever read.

Unlike the large animals of Africa, the ones of North America didn't have humans gradually evolving so they could get used to the idea that humans were a danger to them......they were easy marks.


10 posted on 06/17/2004 8:26:42 PM PDT by Strategerist
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To: edwin hubble
"I remember reading of an isolated population of mammoths on an island off Siberia, surviving well after the mainland population became extinct. The individual mammoths on the island became smaller in stature before finally going extinct."

I remember read that also.

11 posted on 06/17/2004 8:28:11 PM PDT by blam
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To: Brilliant
"These mammoths were on an island, protected from man, but eventually succumbed."

They were also isolated from diseases that may have killed the others. I don't think the human population was large enough to kill off all the things that went extinct...something else happened.

Surrounded by water on all sides, they would have been a few degrees warmer than those on the mainland.

12 posted on 06/17/2004 8:32:47 PM PDT by blam
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To: Strategerist

Unlike the large animals of Africa, the ones of North America didn't have humans gradually evolving so they could get used to the idea that humans were a danger to them......they were easy marks.
///////////////////
however the mammoths of siberia and europe also disspeared during the same period. mammoths of these areas had long lived side by side with humans.


13 posted on 06/17/2004 8:33:06 PM PDT by ckilmer
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To: ckilmer

Not really....the cold areas of Siberia were populated pretty late; MUCH later than the rest of Eurasia.


14 posted on 06/17/2004 8:35:04 PM PDT by Strategerist
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To: ckilmer

Does anyone have a pic of the Mammoth found in Siberia a couple of years back?


15 posted on 06/17/2004 8:36:19 PM PDT by Lijahsbubbe (Don't feed the terrorists)
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: Battle Axe
But a shrinking population eliminates heterozygosity from outside environmental pressures and the gene pool actually shrinks.

From, or due to, which is it?

17 posted on 06/17/2004 8:57:39 PM PDT by Old Professer (lust; pure, visceral groin-grinding, sweat-popping, heart-pounding staccato bursts of shooting stars)
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To: Battle Axe
Let's assume the first pair had no fatal gene mismatches; the offspring arrive singly and to get a second breeding pair it is necessary to have male and female offspring which reach maturity. Now, barring contest and absent moral restrictions, there is nothing to prevent a male offspring from mating with the original female and with its sibling as well and conversely female to male sire and new, contemporary generations would occur, about 8 total at this point then 16...

It would seem that monogamy would play a great part in migratory behavior and opportunity.

Still, it would require a rather favorable enviroment for the establishment of a non repeating breeding cycle and a chance for long-term success.

18 posted on 06/17/2004 9:07:07 PM PDT by Old Professer (lust; pure, visceral groin-grinding, sweat-popping, heart-pounding staccato bursts of shooting stars)
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To: Battle Axe

Crap, I misspelled environment.


19 posted on 06/17/2004 9:09:03 PM PDT by Old Professer (lust; pure, visceral groin-grinding, sweat-popping, heart-pounding staccato bursts of shooting stars)
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To: Old Professer
Crap, I misspelled environment.

Use milieu; fewer letters; exoticker plural.

20 posted on 06/17/2004 9:26:54 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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