Wednesday, October 04, 2006

 

Mastodons Driven to Extinction by Tuberculosis, Fossils Suggest

Oligocene  Miocene Plio-Pleistocene HoloceneFrom National Geographic News: Tuberculosis was rampant in North American mastodons during the late Ice Age and may have led to their extinction, researchers say.

Mastodons lived in North America starting about 2 million years ago and thrived until 11,000 years ago - around the time humans arrived on the continent - when the last of the 7-ton (6.35-metric-ton) elephant-like creatures died off.

Scientists Bruce Rothschild and Richard Laub pieced together clues to the animals' widespread die-off by studying unearthed mastodon foot bones.

...Based on the finding, it's likely that virtually every late Ice Age mastodon in North America had tuberculosis, Laub says.

Continued at Mastodons Driven to Extinction by Tuberculosis, Fossils Suggest
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Rothschild and Laub's work appears in the the journal Naturwissenschaften paper "Did ice-age bovids spread tuberculosis?" (Abstract: here or here) [Science, Evolution, Extinct]

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