Thursday, 27 June 2019


Mammoths of Wrangell Island
Mammoths were were herbivore grazers native to Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. They lived out their long lives, 60-80 years, on the mammoth steppe, a periglacial landscape with lush grass vegetation. Mammoths used their well-designed teeth to graze on grasses, leaves, trees, shrubs and moss. Theirs was not a pretty end. Mammoths from this isolated population on Wrangell Island lost the genetic lottery with DNA mutations so abundant that they eventually led to their extinction.

In a paper published in PLOS in 2017, Rebekah Rogers describes that last populations of these once mighty beasts:

"The last woolly mammoths to walk the Earth were so wracked with genetic disease that they lost their sense of smell, shunned company, and had a strange shiny coat."

These genetic mutations may have given the last woolly mammoths "silky, shiny satin fur and let do a loss of olfactory receptors, responsible for the sense of smell, as well as substances in urine involved in social status and attracting a mate." In any event, their end was not a pretty one or the graceful exit one might have imagined. Excess of genomic defects in a woolly mammoth on Wrangel island; Rebekah L. Rogers , Montgomery Slatkin; Published: March 2, 2017