Activity 5: Do at Home!

Extinction!

Have you ever seen a mammoth walking along the street where you live?

A lot of animals that have lived in the past are now extinct (no more are alive in the whole world). 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. During the end of the last Ice Age many large mammals went extinct.


Look at the following pictures and circle all of the extinct mammals.

[Picture of extinct and still-living mammals]

What characteristics do all the animals that you circled have in common?

Why do you think during the end of the Ice Age these animals went extinct?

Follow this link to read the answers.

Discuss: Are there animals or plants going extinct today? What may be the cause(s) for these extinctions?

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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