From: Jim I. Mead[SMTP:Jim.I.Mead@NAU.EDU]
Sent: 14 November 1997 16:13
You apparently sent a message regarding mammoths to Mike Jacobs, who forwarded it to me. I will see if I can help.
1. Is it so that mammoths almost disappeared about 10.000 years ago? That the mammoths massively moved around that time towards other regions, from north africa to northern europe & asia?
Yes, it appears from the youngest accurate radiocarbon dates place the extinction of the mammoth at about 11,000 years ago. This certainly seems to be the case in North America. Andrey Sher in Russia seems to have very good evidence that mammoths (pygmy) may have persisted on an island between Alaska and Siberia until about 4,000 years ago. Mammoths are just a type of elephant and evolved in Africa and immigrated to other regions at various times. There are some great books in English and German about mammoths.
2. Is it so that mammoths were frozen in the Siberian ices about 7.000 years ago?
I don't know about accurate ages of 7,000 years, but there are a number of mammoths dating much earlier. I have worked on only one mammoth - it radiocarbon dated to about 23,000 years old.
3. Is it so that the few remaining mammoths disappeared about 3.500 years ago ? Do we know how the number of mammoths changed between 10.000 years ago and 4.000 years ago ?
It appears that most died out about 11,000 years ago, but as I mentioned above there appears (?) to be a relict population living until about 4,000 or maybe 3,000 years ago in an Arctic island.
4. Does science have an explanation for these changes? Sudden storms? Sudden climate changes?
Well, like any subject, there are a number of opinions out there. Paul Martin would say that mammoths died out because of over hunting by humans. This may be possible or probable in some areas of the world. I feel that it was a rapid change in climate, which changed the environment, and may have gotten too warm for them. Not sure. Lots more to learn and find out.
You may want to get hold of people at The Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, South Dakota. Let me know if you have more questions.
Jim I. Mead
Chair, Department of Geology
Director, Quaternary Studies Program