06 Nov 2017

“Hold My Beer!”

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NYT: “Male Mammoths Died in ‘Silly Ways’ More Often Than Females, Study Finds.”

Swallowed by a sinkhole. Washed away by a mudflow. Drowned after falling through thin ice.

These are the fates that many unlucky mammoths suffered in Siberia thousands of years ago. Their well-preserved fossils have provided paleobiologists with insight into their prehistoric lives. Now, after performing a genetic analysis on the remains from the furry victims of natural traps, a team of scientists made a striking discovery: Most were male.

“In many species, males tend to do somewhat stupid things that end up getting them killed in silly ways, and it appears that may have been true for mammoths also,” said Love Dalén, an evolutionary biologist from the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, he and his colleagues analyzed DNA from nearly 100 mammoth bones, teeth and tusks, and found that about two-thirds came from males. They speculate the reason for the skewed sex-ratio may have to do with the risky behavior that young males take after leaving the protection of their mothers to live on their own.


3 Feedbacks on "“Hold My Beer!”"


I don’t doubt that males die younger as a result of choices that males make. Makes sense to me, I would die trying to save my child or my wife. I would die to protect my country. I will not stand still for verbal or physical abuse. I would rather fight and die than live on my knees. Men do die earlier.

However everyone dies. I would ask these very educated esteemed researchers if they think that the female mammoths are still out there? The female mammoths died too and their remains were eaten by scavengers. I’m just not sure this great observation and conclusion is meaningful.

Steve Gregg

This may be true of males in every species.

In my high school class, one male died about every two years for twenty plus years before the first female died. The males died unnecessarily from drug overdoses, suicide, car crashes, diving off a bridge into shallow water, etc. I group them all under the heading of testosterone poisoning. They are deaths from active causes.

The first female to die refused to treat her breast cancer, so that was unnecessary as well. It is only now, 45 years out, that a trickle of female deaths has started from natural causes. They are deaths from passive causes.

I disagree that females survive because they are smarter but rather because, in every species, they lead easier lives.

I also disagree that males die more because they are stupider but rather because they lead riskier lives. While the females tend to be sheltered to provide a safe space to raise their young, the males must defend the females against predators and scout to find greener pastures for the herd. The different death rates are driven by their different roles.

Dan Kurt

Too much money out there for “science” me thinks, or an example of publish junk and perish one’s reputation.

Dan Kurt


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