Over time, researchers have noticed how most of the mammoth fossils they found belonged to males. They have been wondering for quite a long time why this happened, but a recent research found the answer. Young male woolly mammoths put themselves in danger a lot more often than females, so they were more likely to fall in a freezing river and get caught into ice.
Woolly mammoths living in the Ice Age resembled today’s elephants quite a lot. This means that their young males often roamed away from the group, and started exploring unknown terrains on their own. As a result, they sometimes fell into rivers, got caught in tight holes in ice, and their bones could be preserved for thousands of years.
On the other hand, females were a lot more precautious. They always stuck to the group, which was led by the old matriarch. She knew all the traps and dangers of the area, and could keep the other members safe.
Male mammoths were more reckless than their female counterparts
The study has been led by researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, and published in the journal Current Biology. As a sample, they used 98 Siberian fossils which belonged to the woolly mammoth species. They performed a thorough study of their genome, and identified the sex of all the 98 individuals.
Researchers knew that male and female mammoths were usually born in similar numbers. However, their genomic analysis revealed that 69 percent of the individuals trapped in ice were male. Initially, they were surprised at the results, but they quickly realized certain living habits must have been involved.
Since male mammoths spent less time with the herd led by the matriarch, they were more likely to fall into natural traps. All the Siberian specimens have been incredibly well preserved, while the tusks and bones of other mammoths didn’t last. Therefore, researchers think these remnants must have been buried in an attempt to be hidden from the harsh weather.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons