Tomsk scientists: Mammoths became extinct due to metabolism problems

Experts from Tomsk State University believe the mass extinction of mammoths was caused by changes in their bone and cartilage tissues.

Experts from Tomsk State University believe the mass extinction of mammoths was caused by changes in their bone and cartilage tissues.

The university press service reported on Monday that the theory is based on the results of the studies of the illnesses of mammoth skeleton systems, which Tomsk State University paleontologists have been doing for more than 15 years.

"The ancient animals were killed by osteodystrophia, a process of pathological changes in the bone and cartilage tissues caused by a metabolism disorder called mineral starvation," the press release says.

Sergei Leshchinsky, the head of the laboratory of continental ecosystems of the Mezozoic and Cainozoiv eras of the Department of Geology and Geography of Tomsk State University, was quoted by the press service as saying that signs of the illness were found when tests on the remains of the latest mammoths were done.

"The joint surfaces of the bones of some species' extremities were not just damaged, they were crippled by illness. As to osteoporosis, its share reaches 100 percent in some collections," Leshchinsky said.

Leshchinsky said the illnesses led to dislocations and fractures from even the slightest physical pressure. Mammoths with damaged extremities could not get enough food, became unable to follow their herds and quickly became prey to predators.

The scientists believe the mineral starvation was caused major environmental changes associated with the neo-tectonic processes and climate humidification, which led to a sharp oxygenation of geochemical landscapes.

Mammoths, who lacked vital chemical elements, tried to replenish them by eating clay on the banks of bodies of water and landslides and in so-called mud baths, which also reflected on their health, the press service said.

It has been determined that the mass deaths of mammoths began some 24,000-20,000 years ago. However, mammoths lived in some places, for example, on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, until 3,700 years ago.

 

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