A research team from the University of Adelaide and the University of Wales, published a study that reveals that animals from ancient times, such as mammoths and giant sloths, are extinct because of climate change. Short and accelerated warming events recorded from the last glacial age are associated with major extinction of several species, even before the appearance of men.
This result offers a clear path towards understanding what may have caused these extinctions. The common debate between scientists was that some alleged that the direct cause was the “overkilling” of these animals by men; while others believe that it was a consequence of climate changes during the glacial age.
The last glacial period, or Ice Age, goes from 110,000 to 11,650 years ago. It was commonly accepted that extinctions occurred during the cooling parts of climate cycles during this period. However, the new study demonstrates that faunal extinction happened mostly around warming events during the glacial period, specifically before and after the Last Glacial Maximum (from 23,000 to 19,000 years ago). These warming events are known as “Dansgaard-Oescheger events” or just D-O events.
D-O events, although highly investigated, are still not completely understood by specialists. What we know is that they happen nearly 25 times during the Ice Age and are characterized for being periodic climate oscillations. The events show a rapid warming that happened only in decades, followed by a cooling period. Then the cycle repeats. Nonetheless, paleoclimatologists are still uncertain of what causes D-O events.
Is important to understand that the results of the research not only explain the causes of these animals disappearance. It is also a clear warning for what the future holds for humanity. If in fact climate change affects in such magnitude animals of such sizes and resistance, this could mean a bigger danger to our current biodiversity. For humans today, the only blame of another major extinction will only be placed under our own responsibility.