Extinct Ice Age Animals
Ice age, called the Pleistocene Epoch, lasted from about 1.65 million years to up to 10,000 years ago. It is related to the mid-western United States, which was inhabited by numerous species of animals. Most of the animal species are no longer found in the region, and some of them have even become extinct. Some other species are still around, but are relocated to different areas.
A large number of animal species became extinct in North America by the end of Ice Age. It is believed that 35 different species of animals disappeared during this period. Saber toothed Cats, Mammoths, Mastodons, Short-faced Skunk, Giant ground Sloth, the Giant Beaver, horses, tapirs, camels, and bears are some of the extinct Ice age animals.
Causes of extinction of Ice Age animals
Before the extinction of animals in North America, the area had a diversity of large mammals as that of modern Africa. Due to extinction, there are relatively few species of large mammals found in the area. The real cause of their extinction is still unknown, but the environmentalists are searching for it.
It is believed that hunting of animals by the humans was the main reason for their extinction. The human migrants from Asia, known as the Clovis people, were the first to set foot in North America about 11,000 years ago. Hunting of the native species of animals by the Clovis people caused them to become extinct.
The degradation in environment and climatic changes are the other reasons for extinction of Ice age animals. North America witnessed rapid climatic changes between 18,000 and 11,500 years ago. The rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, melting of glaciers, and increase in the seasonal difference in the temperatures caused fundamental changes in the ecosystems of North America.
The shift in the ecosystem brought changes in the vegetation patterns, and caused scarcity of food for the extinct animals. It disrupted the birth schedules, and exposed animals to the difficulties of adapting to the changed climatic conditions.
Hyper-disease is yet another reason for their extinction. It is a combination of highly infectious diseases, which was brought by the human expansion. The new settlers brought with them one or more disease-causing agents, which were instrumental in wiping out the population of the native species of animals.
During the Ice age, in addition to extinction of animals in North America, there was extinction of animals in South America, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa as well. 90 percent of the large Australian animals that inhabited during the Ice age became extinct. In the same way, most of the animal species of medium to large mammals in South America became extinct by the end of Ice age.
New Zealand was home to 11 species of moas, a large flightless bird that became extinct during the Ice age. It was the human settlement that caused the moas to become extinct. It is, thus, seen that with the arrival of human beings, animals disappear on the islands of Oceania, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
Therefore, human activities in the destruction of ecological niches for animals are responsible for the extinction of animals.