BEGIN ARTICLE PREVIEW:
Rather than getting wiped out by Ice Age hunters, woolly rhinos charged to extinction in Siberia around 14,000 years ago when the climate turned warm and wet, a study of ancient DNA suggests.
Numbers of breeding woolly rhinos stayed relatively constant for tens of thousands of years until at least about 18,500 years ago, more than 13,000 years after people first reached northeastern Siberia, scientists report online August 13 in Current Biology. Yet only a few thousand years later, woolly rhinos died out, probably because temperatures had risen enough to reshape arctic habitats.
These findings build on a previous argument, based on dated fossils, that woolly rhino populations across northern Eurasia began to decline between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago, with surviving animals moving progressively eastward and dying out in northeastern Siberia around 14,000 years ago. Reasons for initial population losses are unclear, though there’s little evidence that human hunters killed substantial numbers of woolly rhinos, the researchers say.
Sign Up For the Latest from Science News
Headlines and summaries of the latest Science News articles, delivered to your inbox
Instead, a shift to warm, rainy conditions, which occurred between roughly 14,600 and 12,800 years ago, “likely played a large role in the rapid decline of this cold-adapted …
END ARTICLE PREVIEW
READ MORE FROM SOURCE ARTICLE Continue reading “Climate change, not hunters, may have killed off woolly rhinos | Science News”