With the end of the Ice Age, rising sea levels trapped a lot of mammoths onto small islands with sparse genetic diversity. The years of inbreeding had made life generally pretty miserable. They were tormented by a horrid cornucopia of neurological disorders and often suffered from diabetes and intense heartburn. A lot of the males were infertile, which is nature’s way of subtly suggesting that maybe your species shouldn’t exist anymore. Like a responsible bartender who cuts you off after you’ve had one too many and you’re hitting on your cousin.
Sure, it’s sad to think about a woolly mammoth with epilepsy brought on by a genetic code that had been wrung through a meat grinder because its family tree was also its Tinder, but it somehow gets even sadder. The poor things lost their ability to smell flowers. They could smell everything else just fine, but if a couple of closely related young mammoth lovers wanted to canoodle in a field of flowers and bask in their romantic aromas, well they were shit out of luck. Just like their species’ chances of survival.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin’s BunnyEars.com and his “Meditation Minute” segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. And now you can listen to the first episode on Youtube!