Extinction of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) in Eurasia: Review of chronological and environmental issues

Authors

  • YAROSLAV V. KUZMIN

    1. Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Koptyug Ave 3, Novosibirsk 630090, Russia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Yaroslav V. Kuzmin (e-mail: kuzmin@fulbrightmail.org), Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Koptyug Ave 3, Novosibirsk 630090, Russia

Abstract

Kuzmin, Y. V. 2009: Extinction of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) in Eurasia: Review of chronological and environmental issues. Boreas, 10.1111/j.1502-3885.2009.00122.x. ISSN 0300-9483.

The current evidence for date and environmental preferences of the extinction of two middle–late Pleistocene megafaunal species, the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius Blum.) and woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis Blum.), is presented in this review. It is suggested that extinction of these large herbivores in Eurasia was closely related to landscape changes near the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary (c. 12 000–9000 uncalibrated radiocarbon years ago, yr BP), mainly involving the widespread forest formations in the temperate and arctic regions of northern Eurasia and the loss of grasslands crucial to the existence of woolly mammoth and rhinoceros. However, some woolly mammoth populations survived well into the Holocene (up to c. 3700 yr BP), showing that the process of final extinction was fairly complex, with delays in some regions of up to several millennia. The possible role of Palaeolithic humans in the extinction of Late Pleistocene megafauna is also considered.

Ancillary