Have All Prehistoric Animals Disappeared?

Take our mini-quiz and find out

Grotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Have prehistoric animals all disappeared? (2019/2019) by Fanny Le BagousseGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Could we meet the same species our ancestors hunted…

A. No, they are all long gone or B. At least some of them

The correct answer is…

B. At least some of them

Reindeer Group by anonymeGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Some animal species still exist (reindeer, ibex, and saiga antelope, for example). 

Rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) #4 (2019-05-21/2019-05-21) by David Huguet/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

However, others have become extinct (cave lion, mammoth, and woolly rhinoceros), probably due to the end of the last ice age, which took place around 12,000 years ago depending on the region. 

Wool Mammouth (Mammuthus primigenius) #8 (2019-05-21/2019-05-21) by David Huguet/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Aurignacians knew their environment perfectly and in general did not kill animals randomly, but by selecting them. Meat was a valuable source of energy and they could not afford to waste it.

Cave Lion (Panthera spelaea) #2 (2019-05-21/2019-05-21) by David Huguet/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The species that have disappeared (mammoth, cave lion, cave bear, woolly rhinoceros) did not form part of our ancestors' diets, or did so only very occasionally. It was natural changes in the climate that led to the disappearance of these large prehistoric animals. 

How do we know that these black drawings were produced 36,000 years ago? (2019/2019) by Fanny Le BagousseGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Let's see if you can answer another prehistory question!

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