Earth Sciences Publications

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-9-2015

Journal

Scientific Reports

Volume

5

First Page

9791

URL with Digital Object Identifier

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep09791

Abstract

Understanding woolly mammoth ecology is key to understanding Pleistocene community dynamics and evaluating the roles of human hunting and climate change in late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions. Previous isotopic studies of mammoths’ diet and physiology have been hampered by the ‘mammoth conundrum’: woolly mammoths have anomalously high collagen δ15N values, which are more similar to coeval carnivores than herbivores, and which could imply a distinct diet and (or) habitat, or a physiological adaptation. We analyzed individual amino acids from collagen of adult woolly mammoths and coeval species, and discovered greater  15N enrichment in source amino acids of woolly mammoths than in most other herbivores or carnivores. Woolly mammoths consumed an isotopically distinct food source, reflective of extreme aridity, dung fertilization, and (or) plant selection. This dietary signal suggests that woolly mammoths occupied a distinct habitat or forage niche relative to other Pleistocene herbivores.

Notes

PMC4460640

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


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