An editorial in The New York Times, Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth?:
No one is quite sure why the woolly mammoths died out toward the end of the last ice age, some 10,000 years ago. Theories include warmer temperatures that gradually displaced the plants on which they fed, overhunting by primitive man, an accumulation of harmful genetic mutations, widespread disease, or an asteroid or comet colliding with Earth and disrupting the climate.
If scientists do bring back a few mammoths, we suspect our warming world won’t look any more hospitable than the one that did them in.
A meta-point here is that it’s great that the chattering classes devote time to scientific issues; we’re on the cusp of the age of applied biology. But a question I have is the presupposition that a warmer world would be inimical to the existence of the mammoth. After all, there is tundra, and there is glacier. It seems that some tundra would remain as the glacier retreated, following its march..
But I also decided to figure out when Woolly Mammoths speciated. From what I can tell it seems that they diverged from the Steppe Mammoth about 150,000 years ago. Fossil people can clarify or correct. I was curious about this fact because of this chart:
From what I can tell it looks like the Woolly Mammoth made it through an interglacial, one which was warmer than our own time. This is why I’m skeptical of pinning full blame on climate change as the reason behind mega-faunal extinctions, the past was volatile too.