Activity 5: Do at Home!

Extinction!

Have you ever seen a living mammoth?

Circle all of the extinct animals!

 

[Picture of extinct and still-living mammals]

An animal is extinct if there are no more of them alive in the whole world.

Parent background:

  1. A lot of animals that have lived in the past are now extinct.
  2. Animals may go extinct because their environment changes or because they are all eaten by other animals. Erupting volcanoes and meteorites hitting the earth are thought to have caused some ancient extinctions.
  3. During the end of the last Ice Age many large mammals went extinct.

How are all the animals you circled alike?

Why do you think they don't still live today?

Follow this link to read the answers.

Scientists aren't sure why but there are at least 2 ideas:

  1. Climate Change - there is evidence around 10,000 years ago that the climate warmed, and the glaciers melted. Perhaps these large mammals could not adapt to a warmer climate and became extinct.
  2. Human Hunting - there is evidence that human beings, Native Americans or "Paleoindians," lived in North America by ~15,000 years ago, perhaps earlier. There is also evidence that these humans hunted large mammals. Perhaps they killed too many, too fast, and drove them to extinction.

Perhaps both of these environmental changes contributed to the extinction.

Fact: Approximately 80 different kinds (species) of mammals went extinct during the end of the Ice Age in North America.

Main Message: At the end of the Ice Age many mammals went extinct, particularly the larger ones. This exercise gets students thinking about extinction and possible causes, including hunting and other pressures from humans.

Connections: Activity 3 , "Dinosaur or Mammal?", uses similar observation skills to classify different animals.

The Paleontological Research Institution
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Ithaca, NY 14850 phone: 607-273-6623 fax: 607-273-6620
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