Why wooly mammoths were so darn extinction-prone

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It’s long been known that some of the last woolly mammoths to walk the planet lived in or around the modern day Netherlands, so it’s fitting that Dutch scientists at the Natural History Museum Rotterdam recently uncovered the secret to their extinction: Fossil remains of the mammoths show that many had birth defects, including extra ribs growing along their cervical (neck) vertebrae.

Astute readers will note that the neck is an uncommon place to find rib bones, to say the least.

It wasn’t the defects, per se, that killed off the mammoths, but scientists say that such defects are indicative of inbreeding and other undesirable conditions. Neckribs could also point to stress during pregnancy on the part of the mother, possibly stemming from hardships like disease or famine.

Read the full, original story: Scientists discover why wooly mammoths were so darn extinction-prone

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