Solving the woolly mammoth conundrum: amino acid 15N-enrichment suggests a distinct forage or habitat

SCHWARTZ-NARBONNE, Rachel, LONGSTAFFE, Fred J, METCALFE, Jessica Z and ZAZULA, Grant (2015). Solving the woolly mammoth conundrum: amino acid 15N-enrichment suggests a distinct forage or habitat. Scientific Reports, 5 (1).

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Official URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep09791
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1038/srep09791
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    Abstract

    Understanding woolly mammoth ecology is key to understanding Pleistocene community dynamics and evaluating the roles of human hunting and climate change in late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions. Previous isotopic studies of mammoths’ diet and physiology have been hampered by the ‘mammoth conundrum’: woolly mammoths have anomalously high collagen δ15N values, which are more similar to coeval carnivores than herbivores and which could imply a distinct diet and (or) habitat, or a physiological adaptation. We analyzed individual amino acids from collagen of adult woolly mammoths and coeval species and discovered greater  15N enrichment in source amino acids of woolly mammoths than in most other herbivores or carnivores. Woolly mammoths consumed an isotopically distinct food source, reflective of extreme aridity, dung fertilization and (or) plant selection. This dietary signal suggests that woolly mammoths occupied a distinct habitat or forage niche relative to other Pleistocene herbivores.

    Item Type: Article
    Uncontrolled Keywords: 0601 Biochemistry and Cell Biology; 0299 Other Physical Sciences
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1038/srep09791
    SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
    Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
    Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2020 11:48
    Last Modified: 28 Mar 2020 15:30
    URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/25646

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