Some ancient DNA may be leading paleontologists astray in attempts to date when woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos went extinct.
In 2021, an analysis of plant and animal DNA from sediment samples from the Arctic, spanning about the last 50,000 years, suggested that mammoths survived in north-central Siberia as late as about 3,900 years ago (SN: 1/11/22). That’s much later than when the youngest mammoth fossil found in continental Eurasia suggests the animals died out; it dates to about 10,700 years ago. Only on Wrangel Island off the coast of Siberia and the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea were mammoths known to have survived later.
The finding was
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