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When and How Did Mammoths Go Extinct

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Most people instantly think of the Ice Age when they see or hear about woolly mammoths.  By Ice Age, I am referring to both the time in earth’s history when much of the northern hemisphere was covered with glaciers and I’m also talking about Manfred the Mammoth in the movie Ice Age.

These huge members of the elephant kind, often larger than today’s African elephant, were covered with thick coats of long shaggy fur.  Instead of inhabiting thick jungles like many of today’s elephants do, mammoths seem to have been located across the vast northern tundras, often devoid of trees.

No one questions that mammoths and man lived at the same time, but exactly when they coexisted differs between competing philosophies.  Even more questionable is what and when woolly mammoths went extinct.

Some evolutionists have blamed hunting, others pointed to climate changes, some have suggested disease and a few have even postulated their demise was the result of a meteor.  A team of researchers from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability believe that mammoths died off due to a combination of events that started about 13,000 years ago.  After the last ice age (evolutionists have numerous ice ages), the climate began to warm up.  As the climate warmed up, the habitat began to change, humans began to hunt the mammoths and encroached on their territories.

Glenn MacDonald, director of UCLA’s IES, believes that most of the mammoths died around 10,000 years ago.  Some small isolated populations survived until about 4,000 years when the last ones succumbed to all of the changes being forced upon them.  He explained that the same pressures facing many species today are the same as those faced by the mammoths 10,000 years ago.

Interestingly, there is a great deal of debate among creationists as to when and how the woolly mammoths died off.  Some creationists have argued that mammoths died off because of the collapse of a supposed vapor canopy which caused the Genesis Flood.  However, all of the evidence indicates that there was never a vast vapor canopy which could have caused a worldwide flood.  Not only that, but all of the mammoth remains (fossil and frozen) are found in post-Flood deposits.

Mike Oard and other creationists believe the woolly mammoths came from the elephant kind that were aboard the Ark.  After the flood, there were no population pressures on most animals, allowing them to reproduce faster and with a higher survivability rate.  As they spread out, different traits would have been lost from many groups, thus separating them from each other.  Some of them developed very large ears and little body hair as they migrated to the African continent.  Others developed smaller ears and smaller bodies with little hair as they migrated to Southeast Asia.  Then there were those that developed long shaggy coats that migrate north.

Studies have showed that under ideal conditions, elephants can give birth at age 10, then every 2-3 years and the rate of twins increases. Based on these studies, a pair of elephants could grow to over 2 million individual in 300 years or 8 million in 550 years.  These calculations and time frames are of great importance to one prevailing creationist theory of mammoths.

According creationist meteorologist Mike Oard, the global conditions following the Genesis Flood would have been perfect to have created the Ice Age.  He postulates that the Ice Age began within 200 years of the Flood and lasted about 500 years.  This time frame would have given mammoths plenty of time to grow their numbers into the millions by the end of the Ice Age.  Some estimates have placed the number of mammoth remains in Siberia alone to be in the millions.

During the Ice Age, temperatures in the northern latitudes would have remained fairly consistent throughout the year.  As the Ice Age ended, the summers became hotter and winters actually became colder.  Overall, the environment became drier.  Neither condition was favorable to the mammoth.

While some believe the mammoths were frozen to death, Oard points to another cause of the death for many of them.  The deposits they are found in are known as loess and reworked loess.  A loess is a wind-blown silt deposit.  Areas of Alaska, Yukon and much of northern Siberia are made up of vast loess and reworked loess deposits.  In a post Ice Age environment, the drier conditions would have allowed for massive dust storms that would have swept across hundreds of miles of landscape at a time.  Oard points out that some of the mammoths recovered in Siberia were found in a standing position and buried in loess deposits.  We know from other areas in the world today that extensive dust storms can nearly bury a house in a very short time.  Had the huge numbers of mammoths been caught in these ferocious dust storms, they could easily have been killed off by the millions by starvation, thirst and even from being buried in many feet of wind-blown silt.

Instead of this happening 10,000 years ago, Oard and others place the beginning of the mammoth demise to be within a couple years after the Ice Age, which would have been approximately 3700 – 3600 years ago.

For more details on the creationist theory of mammoth extinction put forth by Mike Oard, I strongly urge you to read The extinction of the woolly mammoth: was it a quick freeze?

References

Causes of mammoth extinction resonate in modern realities, scientists say, World Science, June 13, 2012.

Oard, Michael.  The extinction of the woolly mammoth: was it a quick freeze? Journal of Creation, 14(3), December 2000, ppg 24-34.

 

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