10 Historical Mysteries Solved In Recent Years

10. The Death Of Male Mammoths

Photo credit: Flying Puffin

In 2017, scientists believed they found the answer for a quirk in the fossil record: why almost 70 percent of woolly mammoth remains were male. The research team, led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History, concluded that while the gender ratio was fairly equal at birth, it became skewed due to the hierarchy and living arrangements of mammoth society.

Similar to modern elephants, their woolly counterparts lived in groups led by an older matriarch. These groups consisted mostly of female mammoths and their young. Males, however, were kicked out when they reached adulthood and were sent to live on their own or form bachelor groups. Without the support of the herd and the experience of the matriarch, these young males engaged in more “risk-taking behavior.”[1]

While this kind of behavior resulted in more deaths, it was also conducive toward preservation. Lone male mammoths were more inclined to fall prey to natural death traps such as sinkholes, bogs, and crevasses. Their remains were buried and protected from weathering unlike most other Ice Age animals, including a lot of their female counterparts.

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