The extended twilight of the mammoths





One of Charles R. Knight’s wonderful paintings of woolly mammoths walking through the snow of ancient Europe. On display at the Field Museum in Chicago.



When did the last woolly mammoths die?

There is no easy answer to the question. In its heyday the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) was distributed across much of the northern hemisphere, from southern Spain to the eastern United States, and the entire species did not simply lay down and die at one particular moment. Some populations (such as the “dwarf” mammoths of Wrangel Island) survived until about 4,000 years ago, but most of the populations that lived on the mainland seem to have disappeared just under 13,000 years ago as

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