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Stratum plus. 2013. №1

P. A. Nikolskiy (Moscow, Russia), V. V. Pitulko (Saint Petersburg, Russia)

Correlation Between Climate Fluctuations and Mammoth Populations in Connection with the Problem of their Extinction (with special reference to the mass




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Pages: 133-165


Time related frequency distributions of 14C dates obtained on mammoth bones from Arctic Siberia are analyzed. It is shown that their fluctuations may reflect, under certain conditions, relative changes in the mammoth population numbers. During the Final Pleistocene and Early Holocene these fluctuations were synchronous to the environmental changes, determined by the global climatic trend. Mammoth population dynamics in Eastern Arctic follows the cyclic model, with a period of approximately 5000 years, and have well-pronounced decreasing trend. For the last 25 000 years mammoth numbers have reached its minima three times. The last known mammoths inhabited New Siberian Islands ~9470 14C years ago. Unfavorable combination of environmental changes was most probably the major factor to drive the mammoth population to its critical state in the beginning of the Holocene, that finally brought them to extinction. The spread of humans in the regions of Arctic Siberia took place not later than 29 000 years ago, but that did not significantly affect the mammoth numbers. This fact contradicts to the hypothesis that the first contact with human had destructive (fatal) consequences for the local megafauna. However, the presence of humans might have become fatal for the mammoth when its numbers were decreased by environmental factors. One of such stresses took place in the beginning of the Holocene, when humans appear to have become numerous enough to cause the final extinction of mammoths in the region.


Keywords: North-East Asia, Arctic, Siberia, pleistocene extinctions, mammoth, climate fluctuation, Palaeolithic, cultural development


Information about authors:

Pavel Nikolskiy (Moscow, Russia). Candidate of Geology and Mineralogy. Geology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Pyzhevsky Per., 7, Moscow, 119017, Russia
E-mail: [email protected]
Vladimir Pitulko (Saint Petersburg, Russia). Candidate of Historical Sciences. Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dvortsovaya Nab., 18, Saint Petersburg, 191186, Russia
E-mail: [email protected]

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