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Climate change can’t be prevented by bringing back Ice Age creatures, study says


An Elk Island bison. (University of Southampton) SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom — Bringing ice age animals back to combat climate change in the Arctic will not work, a new study says. A team from the University of Southampton say large mammals could not prevent landscapes from changing when temperatures rose thousands of years ago, and they won’t be able to now.

At the end of the last Ice Age 14,000 years ago, the appearance of shrubs dramatically altered the grassy landscapes extending from France across the now-submerged Bering Sea to the Yukon in Canada. Humans often get the blame for this change, as studies point to humans hunting large mammals like the iconic woolly mammoth to extinction — animals that would have kept shrubs in check by trampling over them and helping spread nutrients throughout the soil.

Today, with rising global temperatures , the shrubs are back on the move, spreading even farther north into the colder tundra regions. Reintroducing animals to these parts could possibly reverse the trend, with the added benefit of keeping carbon stored in the ground. However, scientists now have uncovered evidence that suggests climate change, not humans, killed off large animals during the last Ice Age. This […]

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