A Garden Pest of Mammoth Proportions

February 10, 2014 - 08:46

Nowadays, everyone knows there is a menagerie of animals that feast on flowers. Hungry deer, rabbits, squirrels, moles are just a few of the critters that gardeners do battle with each spring.

But how would you like to deal with a wooly mammoth in the garden?

According to one researcher at the University of Copenhagen it could have happened. In an article on the National Public Radio website, Dr. Eske Willerslev said wooly mammoths no longer exist because because their favorite menu item — forbs — no longer existed in what was grassland but post-Ice Age is now the arctic tundra.   

Willerslev believes that 50,000 years ago when the vegan wooly mammoths roamed the grasslands they feasted on forbs — tiny prairie flowers that were their main source of protein. When the forbs died out after the last Ice Age, eventually so did the wooly creatures. In the NPR article Willerslev says, "the dominant source food that these animals were eating were in fact the flowering plants and not so much the grasses that everyone thought was so important." 

Willerslev says the change in vegetation after the Ice Age "could have most likely been pretty devastating" to the mammoths' diet and their existence.

So thanks to the Ice Age, today's gardeners don't have to worry about wooly mammoths munching on their flowers.

But can you imagine if they were still around, just think of the products a garden center could sell?

— Tim

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