Combining Bayesian age models and genetics to investigate population dynamics and extinction of the last mammoths in northern Siberia

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  • Marianne Dehasque
  • Chrzanová Pecnerová, Patrícia
  • Héloïse Muller
  • Alexei Tikhonov
  • Pavel Nikolskiy
  • Valeriya I. Tsigankova
  • Gleb K. Danilov
  • David Díez-del-Molino
  • Sergey Vartanyan
  • Love Dalén
  • Adrian M. Lister

To understand the causes and implications of an extinction event, detailed information is necessary. However, this can be challenging when working with poorly resolved paleontological data sets. One approach to increase the data resolution is by combining different methods. In this study, we used both radiocarbon and genetic data to reconstruct the population history and extinction dynamics of the woolly mammoth in northern Siberia. We generated 88 new radiocarbon dates and combined these with previously published dates from 626 specimens to construct Bayesian age models. These models show that mammoths disappeared on the eastern Siberian mainland before the onset of the Younger Dryas (12.9–11.7 ky cal BP). Mammoths did however persist in the northernmost parts of central and western Siberia until the early Holocene. Further genetic results of 131 high quality mitogenomes, including 22 new mitogenomes generated in this study, support the hypothesis that mammoths from, or closely related to, a central and/or west- Siberian population recolonized Wrangel Island over the now submerged northern Siberian plains. As mammoths became trapped on the island due to rising sea levels, they lived another ca. 6000 years on Wrangel Island before eventually going extinct ca. 4000 years ago.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106913
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Ancient DNA, Bayesian age modelling, Mitochondrial genomes, Radiocarbon, Woolly mammoth

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