In the normal course of events a mammoth corpse is not preserved, yet a minority find themselves wedged in glacial ice, swallowed by sinkholes, taffy-footed in a tar seep, or covered over by mud. And those peculiarly preserved pachyderms are mostly males. Multiple causes of the extinction are likely, yet the tendency of males to wander away from the herd and win Darwin Awards cannot have improved the species' survival odds.
Swedish mammoth-ologist Love Dalén reported in Current Biology that 70% of about 100 woolly mammoth remains sexed by his resesarch team were male. "In many species, males tend to do somewhat stupid things that end up getting them killed in silly ways," the author confided. His journal article cited another study of 14 South Dakota mammoths -- of which 13 were males!
Natural traps have a fatal fascination for the boys, which leaves the female elephants dumbfounded and presumably grateful for a matriarchal society.
The animals vanished so recently that people can eat mammoth meat pulled from the Arctic refrigerator. If the extinct mammoth is resurrected through the alchemy of modern biology, how long can the mammoth species survive before their male members steer the species back into extinction?
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A Mammoth Genomic Meltdown
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Reference: CELL Current Biology
New York Times