Friday, 06 April 2012 15:42

Woolly mammoth discovered in Siberian ice

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A well-preserved juvenile woolly mammoth was recently discovered in Siberian ice close to the Arctic Ocean.

 

Reported by the BBC as part of a BBC/Discovery Channel co-production, the 2 - 3 year old mammoth showed "strawberry blonde" fur and more importantly, evidence of predation both by some kind of 'lion' as well as by humans, suggesting that people may have been competing with local carnivores for the mammoths.

 

"Already there is dramatic evidence of a life-and-death struggle between Yuka and some top predator, probably a lion," says leading mammoth expert, Daniel Fisher, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan.

"Even more interesting, there are hints that humans may have taken over the kill at an early stage."

It is generally assumed that the lions in question were the Eurasian cave lion (panthera leo spelea) which were known to have been present at the same time and regions as the mammoths.

The body shows clear evidence of animal attack, but also shows cuts made by tools and the removal of body parts that would not have been done by normal predation.

The mammoth was not discovered by the BBC team, instead it was obtained from mammoth tusk hunters in Siberia.

As the most recent ice age (the Pleistocene) began to draw to an end 15,000 years ago, mammoths were forced further and further north to maintain their cold climate environment; eventually becoming extinct around 3,700 years ago.  Unlike elephants (from which they evolved) the mammoths were covered in extensive hair and had a 10cm think layer of fat under their skin to aid in heat retention.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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