An international group of scientists has found out details about a mammoth that lived 17 thousand years ago on the territory of Alaska. They determined that the animal lived for 28 years and, during this period, managed to cover a distance sufficient to circumnavigate the Earth twice. This is reported in an article published in the journal Science.
Paleontologists have revealed the secret of mammoth life by analyzing the isotopic composition of strontium and oxygen in fossilized remains stored in the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. For analysis, the scientists took samples along a longitudinally cut mammoth tusk, which grew throughout its life and reached a length of 1.7 meters. This allowed them to compare the animal’s diet with the isotopic characteristics of the areas where it visited.
The mammoth died on the northern slope of Alaska, beyond the Arctic Circle. Scientists reconstructed his entire life path by studying the teeth of hundreds of small rodents from all over Alaska stored in the museum’s collections. Small animals move over relatively small distances during their lifetime and represent local isotopic signals. In this way, a map was obtained of the probable path that the mammoth has made in his entire life.
A sharp shift in the isotopic signature of the tusk at about 15 years old is probably because the mammoth was driven out of the herd, which resembles the picture observed in modern elephants. Starvation could lead to the death of the animal, which is indicated by the growth of nitrogen isotopes in the last winter of its life.