Ancient genomes suggest woolly rhinos went extinct due to climate change, not overhunting

CELL PRESS

The extinction of prehistoric megafauna like the woolly mammoth, cave lion, and woolly rhinoceros at the end of the last ice age has often been attributed to the spread of early humans across the globe. Although overhunting led to the demise of some species, a study appearing August 13 in the journal Current Biology found that the extinction of the woolly rhinoceros may have had a different cause: climate change. By sequencing ancient DNA from 14 of these megaherbivores, researchers found that the woolly rhinoceros population remained stable and diverse until only a few thousand years before it disappeared from Siberia, when temperatures likely rose too high for the cold-adapted species.

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IMAGE: THIS IMAGE SHOWS THE PRESERVED, RECONSTRUCTED REMAINS OF A BABY WOOLLY RHINOCEROS NAMED SASHA THAT WAS DISCOVERED IN SIBERIA. view more CREDIT: ALBERT PROTOPOPOV

“It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old,” says senior author Love Dalén (@love_dalen), a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Centre for Palaeogenetics, a joint venture between Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History. “So, the decline towards extinction of the woolly rhinoceros doesn’t coincide so much with the first appearance of humans in the region. If anything, we actually see something looking a bit like an increase in population size during this period.”

To learn about the size and stability of the woolly rhinoceros population in Siberia, the researchers studied the DNA from tissue, bone, and hair samples of 14 individuals. “We sequenced a complete nuclear genome to look back in time and estimate population sizes, and we also sequenced fourteen mitochondrial genomes to estimate the female effective population sizes,” says co-first author Edana Lord (@EdanaLord), a PhD student at the Centre for Palaeogenetics.

By looking at the heterozygosity, or genetic diversity, of these genomes, the researchers were able to estimate the woolly rhino populations for tens of thousands of years before their extinction. “We examined changes in population size and estimated inbreeding,” says co-first author Nicolas Dussex, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Palaeogenetics. “We found that after an increase in population size at the start of a cold period some 29,000 years ago, the woolly rhino population size remained constant and that at this time, inbreeding was low.”

This stability lasted until well after humans began living in Siberia, contrasting the declines that would be expected if the woolly rhinos went extinct due to hunting. “That’s the interesting thing,” says Lord. “We actually don’t see a decrease in population size after 29,000 years ago. The data we looked at only goes up to 18,500 years ago, which is approximately 4,500 years before their extinction, so it implies that they declined sometime in that gap.”

The DNA data also revealed genetic mutations that helped the woolly rhinoceros adapt to colder weather. One of these mutations, a type of receptor in the skin for sensing warm and cold temperatures, has also been found in woolly mammoths. Adaptations like this suggest the woolly rhinoceros, which was particularly suited to the frigid northeast Siberian climate, may have declined due to the heat of a brief warming period, known as the Bølling-Allerød interstadial, that coincided with their extinction towards the end of the last ice age.

“We’re coming away from the idea of humans taking over everything as soon as they come into an environment, and instead elucidating the role of climate in megafaunal extinctions,” says Lord. “Although we can’t rule out human involvement, we suggest that the woolly rhinoceros’ extinction was more likely related to climate.”

The researchers hope to study the DNA of additional woolly rhinoceroses that lived in that crucial 4,500-year gap between the last genome they sequenced and their extinction. “What we want to do now is to try to get more genome sequences from rhinos that are between eighteen and fourteen thousand years old, because at some point, surely they must decline,” says Dalén. The researchers are also looking at other cold-adapted megafauna to see what further effects the warming, unstable climate had. “We know the climate changed a lot, but the question is: how much were different animals affected, and what do they have in common?”

###

This work was supported by FORMAS, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Carl Tryggers Foundation, the European Research Council Consolidator Award, and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Current Biology, Lord et al.: “Pre-extinction demographic stability and genomic signatures of adaptation in the woolly rhinoceros” https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(20)31071-X

Current Biology (@CurrentBiology), published by Cell Press, is a bimonthly journal that features papers across all areas of biology. Current Biology strives to foster communication across fields of biology, both by publishing important findings of general interest and through highly accessible front matter for non-specialists. Visit: http://www.cell.com/current-biology. To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact press@cell.com.

From EurekAlert!

136 thoughts on “Ancient genomes suggest woolly rhinos went extinct due to climate change, not overhunting

    • I really enjoy Randall Carlson’s videos along with other YT videos which discuss the megalithic builders. I firmly believe that there is a large blank spot in our understanding of how events unfolded back around 13,000 odd years ago for the human race. Mainly, who were the megalithic builders? They obviously traveled around most of the planet many thousands of years ago as megalithic structures are found on many continents around the globe, and they all have similar tooling marks, and characteristics.

      An example of interesting tool marks is seen in the Bazda caves in Turkey, and in the Longyou caves in China. … http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/chinalongyou.htm

      The link claims that the Longyou caves were chiseled by hand, but similar tool marks are also found in Egypt as well in other distant locations. It is hard to conceive that these caves were cut with hand tools at a time before iron tools were in use. The only part that makes sense in the link is the statement that “At present there is no explanation for their existence.”.

      • It is hard to conceive that these caves were cut with hand tools at a time before iron tools were in use.

        It is only “hard to conceive” for those persons who refuse to believe anything other than what the current “consensus of opinions” are claiming as ‘factual science’.

        Consider the current claims about the “time” (13,000 years ago) that human immigrants first crossed Beringia into North America ……. And then consider this, to wit:

        Article excerpt:

        It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago,…………….. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old,

        • All of the stones used in the pyramids were cut with copper chisels. I would imagine that the amount of material chiseled out to make the pyramids was many times larger than the amount of material chiseled out to make those caves.
          Beyond that, we don’t know that the caves were carved out, they could have been just enlarged a bit.

          • All of the stones used in the pyramids were cut with copper chisels.

            MarkW, no one knows who constructed the Giza Pyramid, … or when it was constructed …… or the type of tools that were used in/to construct it.

            MarkW, most of the stones used in the pyramids were sandstone, which is highly abrasive to copper tools. Its name implies two things, …… its composition and its abrasive potential, ….. to wit:

            Copper has a Mohs hardness rating of three (3).
            A very common sandstone is quartz arenite, and therefore on the Mohs scale of hardness it would be a seven (7).
            https://www.aurathaihealthsparandhart.co.za/en/22503/mohs-hardness-scale-chart-for-granite-sandstone-marble.html

          • # Mark W …some of the YT videos which discuss the pyramids in Egypt point out that just like in many other places where megalithic stone work is found that the superior megalithic stone work is on the bottom layer of the structure, and that the inferior stone work sits on top of the superior stone work.

            A great example of that is at the Baalbek temple in Lebanon. Our history people claim that the Romans built the entire structure, including the base playform with thos 800 to 1,000 ton stones. How did the Romasn supposedly move a 1,000 ton stone out of the nearby quarry with its uneven ground, and no roads into the quarry?

            The pyramids also have mega stones in the interior of the structure. In South America the beautiful stone work sits in the borrom layers, and the much rougher Inca stone work clearly sits on top. It is said that when the Spanish asked the Incas who built those superb walls the Incas answered that they were there when they arrived in the area. So who built the beautiful megalithic structures which can be found on most of the continents? It appears that there were people who could readily travel around the world at some point way back in the distant past.

          • “No one knows who constructed the Giza pyramid”

            Don’t be ridiculous. Everybody knows it was Ancient Alien Astronauts. I’ve seen it on the History Channel. That’s even more reliable than EurekAlert!

          • Samuel,

            You are truly a mine of misinformation. The Great Pyramid of Giza consists of limestone and granite blocks.

          • Samuel,

            Hardness would only apply if you were trying to grind sandstone with copper. A chisel doesn’t grind. It is used to focus point shock loads to cause the stone to fracture in a semi controlled manner. Once the chisel edge becomes to deformed you swap out and the old one can have its edge reformed. Soft material. You can do that.

            Hardness is just one measure of a material.

          • Actually archealogists know who built the pyramids, when they were built and how they were built. They also know how the stones were carved.
            That’s been well documented for decades.

          • 1) Even if lower quality stone is on the bottom, so what. Do you honestly believe that societies are static, or always improve?
            2) How do they know what kind of stone is on the bottom of the pyramid, they haven’t excavated them. Ditto for the pyramids of S. America.

          • “Samuel C Cogar August 14, 2020 at 10:40 am
            “All of the stones used in the pyramids were cut with copper chisels.”

            MarkW, no one knows who constructed the Giza Pyramid, … or when it was constructed …… or the type of tools that were used in/to construct it.

            MarkW, most of the stones used in the pyramids were sandstone, which is highly abrasive to copper tools. Its name implies two things, …… its composition and its abrasive potential, ….. to wit:

            Copper has a Mohs hardness rating of three (3).
            A very common sandstone is quartz arenite, and therefore on the Mohs scale of hardness it would be a seven (7)”

            No!
            Most of the big pyramids are made from limestone. The interiors are made with low grade limestone except for the King’s chamber which is made from granite.

            2nd) sandstones run a gamut from soft and crumbly to somewhat hard. But nowhere near a MOHS 7. MOHS 7 is the hardness of quartz itself.

            Limestone is softer.

            In the meantime, workers at the same limestone quarry used by the builders of the pyramid were carving out a block of limestone by hand just as the ancient Egyptians did. It took 12 men two hours to carve out the 70-ton rock. The block of limestone was loaded onto the modern boat using a crane, but Mohammed believes the Egyptians’ rocks were cracked before loading to make the work easier.”

          • @ ATheo K …how were the 1,000 ton blacks at the Baalbek temple complex moved into place? There are still several of these massive blocks sitting in place where they were left after almost being cut out from the bedrock.

            Then there are the 800 ton massive boxes plus lid made out of one solid black of granite which sit underground in the Serapeum. These large boxes were moved down underground corridors where there was only several feet between the walls of the tunnel and the boxes. No one knows what the boxes were made for. There are hieroglyphics cut into the sides on some of these boxes, but it is obvious that the workmanship of whoever cut the hieroglyphics was not up to the standards of whoever made the boxes. These granite boxes are polished almost to a mirror finish. The hieroglyphics which were chiseled onto the sides of these boxes are crude by comparison.

            The many tunnels cut into the Giza plateau are said to run for many miles, and go down up to 20 levels as claimed by adventurers who went into them many years ago. Now there are iron gates which restrict entrance into most of these areas.

          • OK, …. no sandstone construction, ….. but worse yet, ….. granite construction, to wit:

            Great Pyramid of Giza: its constructed of 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite …… and all four sides was originally covered by limestone casing stones that formed a smooth “white” outer surface.

            Many of the casing-stones and inner chamber blocks of the Great Pyramid fit together with extremely high precision. Based on measurements taken on the north-eastern casing stones, the mean opening of the joints is only 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in) wide.

            So what did the Egyptians cut the granite with, surely not a copper chisel.

          • Enduring Mystery Surrounds the Ancient Site of Puma Punku

            Puma Punku in Bolivia is one of the world’s most mysterious ancient sites. This remains true for both academic archaeologists and historians as well as rogue historians

            How many of you believe that copper chisels were used to >a href=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZHuFdjyIj0g/UOYe3mKagfI/AAAAAAAAFEM/FiTO6ySzKyE/s1600/puma_punku_stone_2.jpg>carve this piece of granite that is located at Puma Punku, Bolivia?

            Speak up, John T, …… tout your expertise.

          • How were the blocks moved, on log rollers for the most part, then tipped into place using sand ramps and levers. The ancients weren’t as stupid as many today seem to believe.
            As to your claim of tunnels under Giza, another piece of absolute BS that you are so eager to believe.

          • So you think it is impossible to smooth a block using ancient techniques?
            One method I have seen is to use a fire to put soot onto a flat board. Press the board onto the block. The soot transfers to the high spots on the block. Grind down the high spots.
            Repeat until the block reaches satisfactory levels of smoothness.

            One thing I have noticed about so many, is that they believe that ancient people must have been stupid.

          • @ MarkW …I think that the ancient peoples were as intelligent overall as we are today, minus the science based discoveries made in the intervening centuries. Do you think that they could have moved these blocks out of this quarry? … https://duckduckgo.com/?q=stone+of+the+pregnant+woman&t=ffnt&iax=images&ia=images

            And as for the tunnels under the Giza plateau seeing is believeing for most people, … https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffnt&q=tunnels+in+giza+plateau&ia=web

          • Someone in recent times has managed to move a 1,000 ton block? I have never seen an example for that.

          • Philip Mulholland – August 15, 2020 at 1:08 pm
            Try thinking about the possibility of them using chemical methods rather then just physical processes.

            Philip, did I tell you about the chemist that invented an “acid” that could dissolve anything.

            Only problem, ……… he didn’t have anything that he could safely store it in.

          • @ Sam C … another thought about the theorized stone softening agent for fitting the stones is wouldn’t we see a specific layer on all joined surfaces, if there was such an agent being used? I would imagine that the action of such an agent would change the appearance of the stone at the boundaries. Also, what would keep this softening agent from physically bonding the stones together? These megalithic polygonal walls have in some cases been disrupted by large earthquakes. The stones separate cleanly under such stresses.

            The walls are so impressive. One has to wonder at the minds which could see those shapes, and then create them. How many thousands of years have those walls stood the test of time with only the greatest of quakes being able to partially affect them.

          • Lastly, here is an incredible story which speaks of the history of the Labyrinth in Egypt. Multiple ancient writers of reknown state that they visited this place, and the descriptions are hard to believe. Modern tools have recently proven that there appears to be such a labyrinth buried under the sands which have walls and floors that give a density signature equivalent to granite building materials making up the hidden structure. Pliny and others who claimed to have seen some of this with their own eyes speak in wonderment of ceiling stones which are comprised of one massive block of stone. Who could have possibly moved or built such works? … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PADK6Qq2hgk

          • goldminor, …. thanks, …. great minds think alike. HA

            Here is an excerpted portion of a much longer commentary that I wrote, concerning a more intelligent culture that had to have existed prior to ours.

            The intelligent entity responsible for the DNA modifications of an extant species of the hominidae family (Great Apes) that resulted in the origin of the genus Homo are, for unknown reasons, long gone from the earth, leaving only two (2) factual records of them ever being here.

            One of said records is the fossils of several now extinct species of Homo with us humans being the only surviving member of the Homo lineage.

            The other record being the hundreds of archeological “clues” that pretty much dictates that a highly intelligent entity with the necessary resources and/or tools were responsible for their construction. We know this to be a fact because many of said historical sites have been, and still are, being researched and/or investigated to determine the means and methods of exactly how they were constructed. We do not know the actual answers to these queries.

            The per said, personality of a few of the aforementioned historical construction sites would defy the abilities of present day humans to recreate, even with their access to current technology and tools. Thus, said constructions give reasons and purpose as to why an intelligent entity, or group of alien explorers of this planet, would have need for the creating of a “labor force” that could be nurtured to perform whatever type of work or service that they wanted them to perform.

        • @ Sam C …I recently came across another set of YT videos made by one Praveen Mohan, an Indian man probably in his mid 40s. I highly recommend his videos for you and others to watch. He has a great mind which comes up with unique interpretations which run counter to consensus archeology/science for the most part. He is certainly a lucid thinker. I have been viewing his past videos over the last several days. Here is one of his most recent productions. … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlk5XfycF1g

      • Do you actually find it unusual that people all over the globe developed chisels at about the same time?

        The only “common” feature of these neo-lithic structures is that they were built using stone.
        As to the UK structures, archaeologists have traced the ring building culture back well over 1000 years, with the structures gradually getting bigger and more complex.

    • They are ignoring that there was the event that caused the yuge climate fluctuations of the Younger Dryas. I used to think that we were coming out of the last glacial period when something threw us back into it, such as a nuclear winter from a meteor strike.

      However, as it appears that there was such an event and it impacted the N. American ice sheet, it vaporized yuge amounts of water and released a lot of heat and basically caused the planet to warm out of glacial conditions. As the other overall conditions were that of a glacial period, we eventually returned to glacial-period conditions and then eventually warmed to the Interglacial naturally.

      These mammoth climate fluctuations would have put the populations of large mammals in N. America under major stress and it is no surprise that they left us. The idea that we hunted several major cats and the Dyer wolf to extinction defies imagination.

      • It’s an interesting theory but I certainly don’t think we’re at the point of proof of a impact event yet. I flat out don’t accept that they have this woolly Rhino thing figured out Why do we still have musk ox in the arctic if they are so sensitive to temperature? More likely we have musk ox because they herd and form defensive circles which make them difficult to hunt with projectile weapons while most rhinos are solitary. Hunting creatures to extinction only means reducing the population to a point where breeding becomes impossible. In a vast and relatively unproductive territory that isn’t so difficult. The Arctic of today or 20,000 years ago isn’t the African savanna. Climate change may have affected what grows there but once again I have my doubts. If anything it probably would have become easier to graze. We have too many pretend scientists with no real talent for inquiry.

        • We have too many pretend scientists with no real talent for inquiry.

          BRAVO, …. Bravo.

          Common sense thinking, logical reasoning and intelligent deductions are mental attributes that are becoming extinct in the human population.

      • The mammoths etc. survived many previous de-glaciations quite well.
        Human’s probably didn’t hunt the major cats and Dire wolf, what we did do was hunt their prey to extinction. No prey, no predators.

    • Clearly climate change didn’t wipe out the woolly rhinos. The species arose during the Pliocene, 3.6 million years ago, apparently on the Tibetan Plateau, so was pre-adapted to the Pleistocene glaciations.

      Thus, it survived the dozens of interglacials before the Holocene, including those much warmer and longer-lasting. Why would it die out even before the Holocene, before or during the last glacial termination?

      Humans did venture into NE Siberia before 30 Ka, but must not have gotten populous enough year-round to k!ll off all the rhinos until later. Note also that woollies went extinct in the rest of Eurasia earlier, where there were more human hunters.

    • Technically, I should say that the woollies were extirpated in western Eurasia, before finally going extinct in the far east.

  1. I haven’t ever seen it explained how these massive herbivores and other megafauna survived arctic conditions. These animals need hugh volumes of vegetation – what did they eat?

  2. So, over time the humans did not evolve more efficient hunting techniques to eventually kill them off?
    Maybe the warming led to an increase in the human population, and the higher population of humans led to more killing of the rhinos, who were confined to a smaller area because of warming?
    Really, these people are hopeless. But,I guess you have to keep the grant money coming.
    I also like the idea that the rhinos could not evolve to survive better in a warmer environment, ie, become less hairy.

    • I had similar thoughts. It is a rather odd argument to claim that because humans arrived before the extinction, that it must not have been human over hunting. That would be like claiming that North American buffalo didn’t go (nearly) extinct due to human over hunting; evidence: humans lived in North America for thousands of years before the extinction.

  3. Didn’t Han Solo use one of those things save Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back?
    Stuffed him inside during an Ice Age on Hoth, IIRC.

  4. It’s funny how all these mega-fauna survived the previous interglacial (the Eemian – around 120kya – ie no modern humans in Europe), which was a little warmer than the Holocene, yet went extinct magically due to climate change when humans happened to be there. But it was nothing to do with humans, just climate change similar to previous climatic events that they had survived.

      • Why do they refer to them as ancestors of modern humans? European hominids of 500kya were not ancestors of modern humans, who came out of Africa. Unless we are being asked t believe in the thoroughly debunked multi-regional hypothesis that is even more ridiculous than AGW.

        • Why do they refer to them as ancestors of modern humans?

          European hominids of 500kya were not ancestors of modern humans, who came out of Africa.

          Those who think that …… “the ancestors of modern humans came out of Africa” …… need to be asked the question ……. “Who came first, …..the ‘white’ skinned hominoid or the ‘black’ skinned hominoid?

          • As soon as our ancestors lost most of their body hair, evolution favored high melanin content in skin in the tropics, less in the subtropics, as among the Khoi-San peoples, and even less in the temperate zone, as among Europeans and extratropical West and East Asians.

            American Indians are related to the ancestral population of East Asians, and live in the North and South Temperate Zones and Neotropics, so evolved a range of skin tones.

            It all has to do with the natural selective dance between vitamin D and skin cancer. The people who came out of tropical Africa naturally were darker complected. Over the generations living in the Asian temperate zone, lighter complections were selected for. Those groups venturing into Europe and northern Asia were under even stronger selective pressure for less melanin.

          • John Tillman – August 14, 2020 at 1:26 pm

            As soon as our ancestors lost most of their body hair, evolution favored high melanin content in skin in the tropics, less in the subtropics, and even less in the temperate zone

            John T, you still don’t get it, …. do you, …… most probably because you job status is a hinderance.

            Here ya go, …..again, John, …. our previous discussion, and it is still logically and scientifically correct now as it was then. …… September 10, 2019 at 4:28 am

            https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/09/04/uah-global-temperature-update-for-august-2019-0-38-deg-c/#comment-2791390

  5. The earliest definitive evidence of the atlatl (spear thrower) is from Solutrean caves 21,000-17,000 years ago. This significant advance in hunting weaponry probably spread quickly. Absence of atlatl finds prior to that date means it likely was not invented any earlier.

    Spear throwers made of bone survive geologic weathering, whereas wooden arrow shafts do not. Small arrow or atlatl dart tips made of stone also survive, but without the shafts it is difficult to discern the delivery system. However, it is generally thought that bows and arrows came later than spear throwers, at least in northern climes.

    Atlatl tips have been found embedded in mammoth remains. They evidently were the weapon of choice for high latitude big game in the late Upper Paleolithic and proto-Neolithic.

    Any analysis of megafauna extinctions should include the data (evidence) of human adaptations and advancements as well as human population estimates. Any theory which attributes extinctions to “climate change” without consideration and in-depth analysis of the extant hunters and their technologies is missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

    • The difference between the Holocene and the Eemian and dozens of previous interglacials which they survived, is the presence of humans. Clearly the additional burdens of human depredation made surviving the climate shift too difficult this time. The media spin on this study is fake news relying on the ignorance of the readers.

    • Mike Dubrasich – August 13, 2020 at 10:59 pm

      Any theory which attributes extinctions to “climate change” without consideration and in-depth analysis of ………….

      Mike D, how many of our brilliant scientists have considered extinct causes such as, to wit:

      Anthrax is a serious bacterial, cutaneous, zoontic disease that affects the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts of most mammals including humans, several species of birds, and herbivores

    • What’s upsetting is that the readers are “accepting”
      the garbage their “news” paper is publishing! I have
      a sneaking suspicion there aren’t too many readers
      today. Must use the paper for poop catchers in pet
      cages and the like? No sane educated person can take
      that stuff seriously. Please say I’m correct! Please!

    • Yes – I noticed that. No reference, of course.

      And no one will correct them on it – there is no point….

      • I’m sure that a lot of people will correct them. It’s just that none of the corrections will ever be printed.

      • The modern standard for journalism has nothing to do with accuracy. The only requirement is that they follow and support the narrative without question.

        • Here in WI a local (Fox) radio station is reporting on the completion of the Fox River dredging project; that “several million cubic yards of PCBs were removed” at a cost of $1B. My best guess is they are directly quoting an EPA press release.

          Innumeracy, sigh.

          I bet it was a single cubic yard or so of poly-chlorinated-bi-phenols. The original source was actually the active ingredient in (recycled) carbonless paper. The technology replaced “carbon paper”.

          No good deed goes unpunished. “Carbonless” would really help sell some paper these days.

    • David,
      On the Daily Mail piece,
      Q: how much warmer than the second warmest year (2019) or the third warmest (2015) is the so called warmest year (2016) since 1850?
      Then ask how much is the margin of error in these figures.
      A: The difference between 2016 and 2015 (or 2019) is ~ 04 C ( NASA GISS) or ~ 0.01 C ( HadCru ).
      The margin of error in these figures is 0.1 C ( Source – Amicus Curia brief in San Francisco and Oakland v Chevron et al by Lindzen, Koonin and Will Happer).
      It makes you weep when you read the propaganda in the Daily Mail article.

      • When Peninsular Charleston, SC, was founded in 1690 (after moving from across the Ashley River), they built a seawall. Part of this seawall was later preserved under the Charleston Exchange which was built in 1770 or so. You can go to the basement of this building today and see that the seawall was built for a sea level a meter below the current sea level. Thus, the sea level has come up about a foot a century for 330 years, slowly and steadily without significant acceleration of deceleration. In each 30 year period from 1690 onward the sea level had to have risen 3-4 inches. What is missing in the Daily Mail story is the context: yes sea level rose 3.4 inches since the 1990s, but it also rose about that from 1960 to 1990, 1930 to 1960, 1900 to 1930, 1870 to 1900, and so on to the beginning of the end of the Little Ice Age.

  6. First appearance of humans everything was ok it seems, so it must have been climate tens of thousands of years latter. Really ?

    The first appearance of humans in the area is meaningless, it is the size of the human population in the few thousand years preceding the extinction that matters – the quotation is silent on that issue.

    The smoking gun is obviously the growth of the human population over tens of thousands of years to the point where pre-historic climate change researchers bred out of control and ate all the mammoths.

  7. I love the drole comments on these ludicrous articles claiming wilder and wilder reasons to be “afraid” of climate change! The total extremes of temperature in Arizona where we live is winter 40 degrees to summer 130 degrees! Yet everyone survives just fine. Freaking out about 2 or 5 degrees per century is stupid in the extreme!!

    • “The total extremes of temperature in Arizona where we live
      is winter 40 degrees to summer 130 degrees!”

      Kelvin?

        • He didn’t say where in Arizona he lived:

          Flagstaff, Arizona

          “The city of Flagstaff is one of the snowiest incorporated cities in the US which receives an annual snowfall average of about 100.3 inches. The snow covers the Flagstaff’s ground for numerous weeks after a significant winter snowfall because the freezing night temperature refreezes the melting snow. The cold air systems from Canada and other northern American states push into Arizona bringing the temperature of the northern parts of the state to -18°C. The city’s snowiest winter was the 1972-73 season when it received 210 inches of snow cover.”
          https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/does-it-snow-in-arizona.html

          PS: It should have been obvious, if you had thought for a minute or two,
          that the comment “Kelvin?” was intended to be lighthearted…

          • I’m pretty sure that nowhere on the surface of the planet does the daytime temperature reach 130C. Outside of active volcanoes.
            I’m pretty sure that the winter lows, even in southern Arizon, are well below 40C.

          • My point, which you are evading, is clarification. When numbers are given for temperatures the scale used needs to be indicated. If it is missing, how are readers not to know that the 40 is not perhaps missing a minus sign? At minus 40C and minus 40F the actual temperature is the same – cold, certainly; unlikely, certainly; but not unimaginably so to someone who does not know the area.

            Not every country uses the Fahrenheit scale. Some use both Fahrenheit and Celsius, which very likely in itself often leads to confusion. Many readers of this site, I suspect, do not come from any of these countries. WUWT is open to the world.

            My lighthearted (ie: joking but still serious) suggestion of the clearly, under any earthly circumstances, ludicrous ‘Kelvin’ was intended to elicit clarity from the poster Pete Roberts PhD; whose claim to BSc (Hons) suggests he should know better.

            That he did not could lead some to ask whether his BSc is in Economics, or some such other questionably numerate discipline – and hence to disregard the point he was trying to make.

            Finally, I suggest you watch some of the old Monty Python videos, which are freely available on youtube – and try to acquire a sense of subtle humour.

            I am now out of this thread.

          • Not everyone needs to have their hands held all of the time. Some of us are able to figure it out on our own.

  8. And yet the Musk ox and the yak and/or their antecedents somehow did not die out from the climate change.
    I think these researchers forget that there is such a thing as evolutionary dead ends and sometimes a species’ time is up.
    In other words, this is most probably just another made up crock of sh*t.

    • There actually has been some good news of late on the elephants of Kenya:

      Elephant baby boom in Kenya — numbers double over three decades
      https://www.dw.com/en/elephant-baby-boom-in-kenya-numbers-double-over-three-decades/a-54544415

      “Kenya’s elephant population has more than doubled from 1989 to today, its wildlife service announced at an event marking World Elephant Day. Tourism Minister Najib Balala said authorities have “managed to tame poaching.”

      Stopping poaching has to the more important than the climate scam. Right up there with bringing economic prosperity to Africans. They go hand in hand. Wide-spread, species threatening Poaching will continuing as long as economic misery despair exists there and the profitability of ivory in Asia exist..

      • I edited my comment down too much.

        If the megafauna are extinct elsewhere because of human hunting, why do they still exist in Africa?

        • Africans did not need to wear animal skins to survive?
          Parasitism kept the human population low?
          Africans had access to other abundant food sources?
          I would go with parasitism as the best explanation.

        • Go to the Serengeti NP and then to Denali NP. Compare the density of game species. There are a lot more Proboscidians per hectare in Africa and India and other places where they are extant than ever could have been supported in Arctic habitats. Greater densities and higher reproductive rates allow the tropical elephant species to withstand greater hunting pressure. Also, humans were present in Africa far longer than in the Arctic and its quite likely that the wildlife in Africa may have seen humans as predators whereas Arctic Megafauna were not wary of them.

          What is true of humans with spears and atlatls, sadly, is not true of humans with assault rifles. Modern weapons have allowed much higher rates of killing, causing the decline and even demise of many African Megafaunal species.

        • That’s what I’ve always wondered. Higher population density of humans and loads more time to have been chewing down the population and yet there are still elephants.

        • African megafauna were accustomed to human predation. The beasts of Eurasia, Australia and the Americas were naive and easily fell prey to advanced hunting techniques. Also, tropical climate doesn’t change much, so the range of megafaunal species wasn’t constricted. Periodic climate change was not a survival problem until you add humans to the mix.

          Also, in the tropics and subtropics, people can subsist on more plant food year-round than in higher latitudes. The Indian megafauna also suffered fewer loses than the more northerly Eurasian, Australian and American species.

  9. Looks to me they got a negative result and blamed it on climate change.

    They sequence just one nuclear genome and 14 mitochondrial genomes looking for evidence of a population decline. They fail to find it and find instead a stable population. They then blame the extinction, without any evidence, on global warming to ensure publication.

    The result should have been expected because of sample bias. As a population declines the chances of finding remains decrease exponentially. So all the samples are from when the population was large. They fail to discuss human population size and changes in hunting preferences as the preferred preys became rarer.

    It is a constant in research and study that causal attribution tends to follow the social preferences and prejudices of the time. A perfect example is the cause of the Roman empire decline and fall. It was attributed to moral decline in post-Victorian times and to lead poisoning in the 1970s. In between it was attributed to anything that was fashionable at the time. Nowadays everything gets attributed to climate change.

    • See Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a recipe adopted by Lord Shelbourne for the British Empire. Note the Publication date 1776–1789 !
      Gibbon was commissioned to find out how to avoid that decline. And it sure looks like it worked. Witness Armageddon-Mike Pompeo in July 2020 taking tea at the private Naval and Military Club, the In and Out club, headed by Prince Philip, hosted by the Henry Jackson Society, prepped for harrumphing.

      Shades of Sir Henry Kissinger in Oxford in the 1980’s openly declaring in 4 US Admins, he always served the Crown.

      Of course today the social prejudice is the British Empire does not exist, how dare you!

    • I tend to agree, there’s not much backing up their hypothesis.

      Another factor discussed in a Dutch study on the incidence of abnormal cervical (neck) vertebrae in woolly rhinos, which strongly suggests a vulnerable condition in the species. Given the considerable birth defects that are associated with this condition, the researchers argue it is very possible that developmental abnormalities contributed towards the eventual extinction of these late Pleistocene rhinos.

      Also Dr Albert Protopopov, believed the baby rhino was 10,000 years old when first discovered, this was later updated to 34,000 years old.

      More of that settled science stuff.

    • Gibbon blamed Christianity.

      Today I guess it’s the barbarian climate refugees.

      Oh, wait, it got colder, now warmer before the Germanic Folk Wanderings, Vikings, Alans, Huns and Arabs.

      Never mind.

  10. The woolly think DID go extinct due to hunting!

    (Researchers hunting for a grant and being forced to include climate change in their findings, that is…)

  11. Fascinating article and interesting methods of approach.

    Of course it was climate change, the climate changes–we all know this.

    I find it particularly brave of them to say that modern humans are not the destroyers of all extinct species especially in today’s ‘all human bad” crapola that is dished out every day on the airwaves.

  12. ” Hi boss ,could I get 200000 dollars to study natterjack toads in Bolivia? ”
    “Natterjack toads?In Bolivia? There aren’t any are there?”
    ” well er, that’s the point ,you know,er ,climate change,I think they er, went extinct in Bolivia. ”
    “Extinct,you say?Climate change?…..Ok ,here’s a million bucks.”
    ” A million??? ”
    “Yeh!Better check out Uruguay and Brazil as well.And Switzerland.”
    ” Switzerland? ”
    ” Yeh,deposit 200000k in this bank account number…… “

    • As do I, an experienced hunter of North American and African “megafauna”.

      Unless fear of great apes is a recent development among those species, I have a hard time not rejecting the idea. I have a model that backs up my assertion (little sarc). Folks may imagine it’s easy to get within atlatl range of an Elk, Whitetail Deer or a Kudu, say. But, it aint.

      In Northern Zimbabwe, the starving locals’ most effective hunting weapon is a wire snare. I did see small boys with bows & arrows hunting birds mostly.

      • Elk, whitetails and kudus weren’t wiped out. Only the biggest animals and in environments where they were naive.

        That people did kill mammoths with sharp stones on sticks is evident from archaeology. The giant Pleistocene bison were stampeded over cliffs, just as later Americans did with the smaller extant bison.

        Kill the females, and in one generation the species is extinct.

      • The preferred hunting method for antelope is to run the animal ragged, then spear it.
        Humans are much more efficient at dumping excess heat than are fur covered animals. Also 2 legged running is more efficient than 4 legged running, so human’s are generating less heat, pound for pound then are the antelope.
        They keep chasing the antelope till it collapses for exhaustion, then close in for the kill. Such hunts have been documented for years.

    • Mammoth hunting in Poland, c. 25 Ka, from 2019:

      The earliest direct evidence of mammoth hunting in Central Europe – The Kraków Spadzista site (Poland)

      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277379118308588

      From Nov 2019, mammoth hunting in North America, c 15 Ka:

      https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/found-mexico-two-traps-where-woolly-mammoths-were-driven-their-deaths-180973522/

      Mammoth kill site with Clovis technology:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naco_Mammoth_Kill_Site

      That a dwarf population of mammoths survived on Wrangel Island until about 4000 years ago doesn’t mean that humans didn’t drive their extinction. Without people on the Siberian shore, the mammoths wouldn’t have been confined to the island, shrinking during the Holocene Climate Optimum.

  13. Well, wait… This would mean the climate change thing has been going on for tens of thousands of years. That can’t be right.

  14. I love how the are constantly re-writing history in order to better fit the narrative.

    Originally it was thought that changing climate killed off the mega-fauna, it has only been in recent decades that the thought that ancient humans may have played a role in their extinctions.

    BTW, just pointing out that human’s lived in a certain area is not sufficient to prove that those humans were conducting wide scale hunts on a particular animal. It takes time to develop weapons and tactics that are effective against such large animals.

    Beyond that, there have been glacial and inter-glacial phases going back millions of years. These mega fauna survived all the previous ones. The question is, why did the start of the most recent inter glacial period kill them. What was different?

    • Clearly, the woolly mega-fauna that have become extinct were adapted for cold weather and a specialized diet. The sudden end to the cold climate would also mean the end of the food source they had adapted to. What better way to cause a species to become extinct?

      On the other hand, there is no evidence in North America (unlike Siberia) of large settlements taking large numbers of mammoths. Even on the islands that were the last ‘refuge’ of mammoths, and apparently were not hunted, they eventually became extinct. While I find it likely that hunting by humans of a population that is under stress might create a tipping point, under optimal environmental conditions, humans would just be another predator. After all, even with the mass slaughter of bison going over “jumps,” the Plains Indians didn’t make a dent in the population of bison. It took guns and trains to nearly wipe them out.

      There are a great many animal species that have become extinct before there were even humans around. Obviously, environmental factors are sufficient to cause extinctions. There is no necessity for humans.

      • The Pleistocene megafauna had survived numerous prior interglacials. The only difference in the last glaciation and Holocene was modern humans.

        There is ample evidence of humans hunting mammoths both in Eurasia and North America, plus the other biggest of the big animals.

        The Pleistocene and Holocene megafaunal extinctions cannot have been caused by climate change alone, since the large animal species had survived even greater and longer-lasting changes many times before.

        OTOH, when modern humans showed up in Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, Madagascar, the Caribbean, Hawaii, New Zealand, Mauritius, Reunion, you name it, the result was always the same, ie the biggest animals were wiped out. Coincidence? I think not.

      • Modern bison are smaller than their Ice Age relatives.

        And of course they were saved from extinction only at the last minute. Rifle-armed and horse-equipped hunters would have wiped them out, by killing the cows, had not a few preservationist stepped in, including ex-bison-hunter rancher Charlie Goodnight.

        • John
          What does the size of Ice Age bison have to do with their susceptibility to elimination by humans? It would seem to me that the population, reproduction rate, and intelligence would have a bearing. However, I don’t see how size alone would be critical other than making them more difficult to ‘keal.’ However, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the early inhabitants were capable of eliminating the mammoths, mastodons, rhinoceros’, and ground sloths. Once the largest animals were gone, it would be logical to then go after the next largest — elk, moose, and bison. But they haven’t become extinct! Why not if they became the only available big game to hunt and the human population was increasing and expanding in territory?

  15. It’s clear to me that the warming climate increased their food supply making them fatter and tastier. These slow delicacies were then easy prey for humans.

  16. It is generally thought that those were not modern humans. The best evidence is that modern humans left Africa less than 100K years ago.

    • Since there’s no evidence of that happening and all the evidence in the world against it, the effect was presumably minimal.

      • There is evidence of an impact in South America. … https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-38089-y

        It is possible that there were several fragments which hit at multiple locations around the same time. What would happen in a smaller fragment landed on the remnants of the melting continental ice sheets in North America/Greenland? Would we see a crater, or would there just be a massive melting of the ice sheet, and a beyond huge mass of steam/water vapor thrown high into the atmosphere which would then steadily rain out for many months afterwards? Could that have been the cause of the biblical flood? A flood which did flood all land surfaces at all elevations for some period of time?

        An event of that magnitude could explain why mankind went underground in many locations around the world. There are quite a few stories that state that humanity came from the caves.

  17. It seems unlikely that the moderate warmth of the 1,800-year-long Bølling-Allerød interstadial could kill off a species which survived the greater warmth of the 20,000-year-long Eemian. But what do I know?

  18. No one can convince me that Woolly Rhino’s did not go extinct because Cave Men thought they looked hot in a Woolly Rhino coat.

    Honestly, I wish so-called scientists would grow up. They almost certainly did not go extinct for a single reason but instead a range of changes that they were ill suited to. Temperature, foraging, disease, predators…it was likely all of there to some degree. Why we need to blame ONE THING I don’t understand, but that seems to be the fade.

  19. Not many people realise that the woolly rhino actually lived in a very mild, temperate climate. Quite similar to today’s climate.

    That is why they needed a thick woolly coat.

    When the climate became warmer, they all overheated and died. Not because of climate change, but because they never invented scissors, which would have allowed them to cut their thick woolly coats.

    And even if they had invented scissors, that would not have saved them. Because evolution did not equip them with opposable thumbs, which are needed to use scissors.

    Woolly rhinos died out because there was a world shortage of hairdressers.

  20. Guys using pointy stones hundred the RHINO to extinction. I want to be on their team. Hey, Aubrey, after lunch, go kill a rhino for us….

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