NYT: “Male Mammoths Died in â€˜Silly Waysâ€™ 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.
â€œIn 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,â€ said Love DalÃ©n, 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.