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Impact of climate and humans on the range dynamics of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) in Europe during MIS 2

  • Adam Nadachowski (a1), Grzegorz Lipecki (a1), Mateusz Baca (a2), Michał Żmihorski (a3) and Jarosław Wilczyński (a1)...

The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) was widespread in almost all of Europe during the late Pleistocene. However, its distribution changed because of population fluctuations and range expansions and reductions. During Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage 2 (MIS 2), these processes were highly dynamic. Our analyses of 318 radiocarbon dates from 162 localities, obtained directly from mammoth material, confirmed important changes in mammoth range between ~28.6 and ~14.1 ka. The Greenland stadial 3 interval (27.5–23.3 ka) was the time of maximum expansion of the mammoth in Europe during MIS 2. The continuous range was soon fragmented and reduced, resulting in the disappearance of Mammuthus during the last glacial maximum from ~21.4 to ~19.2 ka in all parts of the North European Plain. It is not clear whether mammoths survived in the East European Plain. The mammoth returned to Europe soon after ~19.0 ka, and for the next 3–4 millennia played an important role in the lifeways of Epigravettian societies in eastern Europe. Mammoths became extinct in most of Europe by ~14.0 ka, except for core areas such as the far northeast of Europe, where they survived until the beginning of the Holocene. No significant correlation was found between the distribution of the mammoth in Europe and human activity.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author at: Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences, Sławkowska 17, 31-016 Kraków, Poland. E-mail address: (A. Nadachowski).
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