Alaska, Willie Mama, Bataille discussed on As It Happens from CBC Radio


The skeleton of a willie. Mammoth is impressive to look at standing taller than a one story house with its long ivory tusks curving up into the air and it turns out you can learn a lot from one of those tusks. A team of researchers have been able to retrace the steps of one. Mammoth by studying its tusk. They discovered that it was born. In alaska and traveled seventy thousand kilometers over the course of its life claim on bataille is the co cocoa lead author of that study and an assistant professor of earth and environmental science at the university of ottawa. We reached him in ottawa. Why did you want to unlock the secrets of the woolly. Mammoth using its tusk. Well the idea behind this is really try to understand the extinction of those animals and puts. Curly's the link between climate change and extinction of megaphone. So we know that hold him. Willie mama disappeared twelve thousand years ago And that was linked to huge transition in the climate of the earth from glacial interglacial. And we don't feel you understand why this huge climate change Might have had an impact on this particular species because some of the species like caribou for example stayed alive cousy interglacial but some disappeared. Like the mama so we were really trying to try to link the mobility. We've we've climate and the tusk as i understand. It holds a treasure trove of information. About where this creature lived. Yeah yes Dusky really exceptional. Because it's growing continuously so it's a little bit like a tree ring that kind of keep recording every day of the life of the of the mamas because it grows constantly as about like six commuter per year and he grows. It'll be like a stock off ice cream cones if you want With like the tip of the being the oldest and the base being the youngest and so what we did is we split the tusk and then in signed up. Tusk is chemical signature That's go isotope ratios that we can unlock Using special instruments laser ablation in particular and tried to merge was isotopes along the tossed super super high resolution measured like a million points along the tusk there and whose chemical signature are related to the landscape on which the most traveling and because alaska has such a huge range of geology. We can start to reconstruct the full history of The modernist movement because it went through so many different sort of colocation we can much location isotope ratio. We've tons of tusk. And where do the prehistoric rodents come in. Yeah so that's where it comes in to build that map because the analyzed rodents isotope oliver alaska to build that map. So why did we use road on first of all just because wrote tar kind of local animals so they represent the local isotopic signature. Local chemical signature. And so we use. We got voted from oliver from a lot of different geology and a lot of different environmental condition and then from there we train a model to create a map that predicted lose isotope ratio across the entire study area and then from the tusk. Compared is a. We've got of the map. She'd kind of backtrack the step of the from point of what kind of map emerged. Where exactly did this mammoth goal. Yeah so the. The surprise was demolished. Move much more than what we expected. So the ranch of the mommas ended up to be a gigantic basically covered the entire state of alaska huge huge ranch of of movement The last thing we that twice the most surprising is that this From the age of fifteen years old and later when it becomes more of an adult male spikes to move feel four time. Its life this huge trip. Like six hundred kilometers out of time in like two or three months. I'm going somewhere somewhere like distinctive. He seems to really know where it's going and This was surprising and we looked elephants. And what happened at l. Essentially that the fifteen years old they get kicked out of the maternal heard and they start to really wander around the landscape much more looking for new herds for reproduction looking for low. We think that looking for love. That's it so. I think he was a time. Are mama's became kind of over and started to just really get excited about moving on the landscape and try to find a new. Mammoth has just did to compare it. Travelling distance of twice around the world in a span of twenty eight years seems like a pretty long way to go. How does that compare. Though to what an elephant today might travel. It will be a probably similar to watch. An african elephant will travel a bit more probably because the tundra in the arctic is very dry the resources for landscapes so this huge animal must have had to move a bit more to just find its resources so in the end what questions has said helps you answer and maybe new questions have emerged about the connection between their migration behaviour and their ultimate extinction. I mean i think it really help us to narrow down a bit to hypothesis about extinction. i mean. we can't really conclude with one single individuals so we'll have to do much more work and doing much more touch to just draw bigger conclusion. What's he could really say but This study is that despite his hot too had a huge landscape To survive so diverse. Landscaped transmits his genes for civil. And you'll probably needed a huge area for just resources So that really helps because what we think. Is that the transition of the glacial-interglacial what happened is most of alaska became forested when he became warmer and wetter and that really fragmented the habitat of the mommas and kind of prevented mama's to move. Maybe better a much on the landscape to a little bit. What we see today was. Which is we've parked damning into this small national parks where they don't have a lot of lens roam around and so that makes them more vulnerable to big climate variation things drought. They don't really have possibility to move around as much and to be flexible with their resource and humility. They don't have as much genetic diversity because they can't go to see different herds from different places. So i think this is really telling us to tell about how climate change is influencing species extinction in some ways and and we really hope to go further with. That was more tusk. Missio bowtie thank you for your time. Okay thank you very much for. Having the player claim all by is an assistant professor at the university of ottawa..

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