Extinction

Miss mammoths? Blame your ancestors

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Science  27 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6191, pp. 1477-1478
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6191.1477-f

The now-extinct woolly mammoth.

PHOTO: DANIEL ESKRIDGE/STOCKTREK IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

Imagine saber-toothed tigers, giant ground sloths, and car-sized glyptodonts—an armadillo relative—ranging across the entire planet. Only a few tens of thousands of years ago, such charismatic megafauna ruled the earth. What killed them—climate change or human activity? In the first global analysis of extinctions during the Pleistocene geological epoch, Sandom et al. found that the expansion of humans out of Africa most likely caused the extinctions over the past 100,000 years. The animals were easy targets: They lacked the fear of humans that comes with years and years of co-evolution.

Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B 281, 20133254 (2014).

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