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Expansion and Extinction: the Collapse of the Mammoth Steppe Fauna


More and more we become aware of the impact of climate change on our natural environment. The fossil record shows how extensive that impact can be. The woolly mammoth, the emperor of the animal kingdom, dominated the fauna of Eurasia for thousands of years, but the territory of the species shrunk dramatically; rather recently the woolly mammoth, together with for example the woolly rhinoceros and the giant deer, became extinct. Other species flourished due to the latest changes in climate and expanded their territories to more northern latitudes of Eurasia; a dynamic, fascinating process of contraction and expansion that is driven by climate change. Humans followed their own track, expanding to the east and crossing Beringia on their way to the America’s.

Thijs van Kolfschoten is Professor in Palaeozoology and Quaternary Biostratigraphy at the Faculty of Archaeology at the Leiden University. His research focuses on continental deposits Early Pleistocene - early Holocene in age.