A new study shows that a woolly mammoth that lived in Alaska more than 17,000 years ago could have walked farther than previously thought. The findings reveal that the animal may have travelled as far as 70,000 km (43,500 miles), which would have been enough to circle the planet twice.
The mammoth researched by scientists was massive and had two giant tusks, and he has been nicknamed Kik by the research team. The new study appears to support the theories that the demise of such animals was in fact caused by climate change or human intervention.
The effect of climate change on the life of various animal species is supported by research, and scientists have noted that the movements of elephants have also changed. Researchers hope that this study can ultimately prevent elephants from having the same fate as mammoths.
Scientists analyzed DNA from the remains of the mammoth, focusing especially on the layers of its tusks. The strontium isotope ratios of the layers helped researchers pinpoint quite accurately the routes taken by Kik when he was alive. It is believed that the mammoth was kicked out of the herd at one point and he travelled to the north of the Brooks Range where he also spent the last year and a half of his life.
“We really learn something new about how mammoths lived from this study. It’s not too surprising that male mammoths roamed around so much. But it’s interesting that it seems to have crossed the Brooks Range several times, that is a pretty big hike,” explained Dalén Love, an evolutionary genetics professor at the Stockholm Centre for Palaeogenetics.
This is the first time a team of researchers is able to reconstruct so precisely the routes of an animal that died a long time ago.