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LINGERING QUESTIONS

“LYUBA,” AN AMAZINGLY WELL-PRESERVED BABY WOOLY MAMMOTH (DISPLAYED AT THE ROYAL BRITISH COLUMBIA MUSEUM IN 2016). LYUBA LIVED AROUND 40,000 YEARS AGO. SHE WAS FOUND IN SIBERIA IN 2007.

We’ve come a long way since the days when mammoth fossils were mistaken for the bones of giant humans. Scientists have learned a great deal about these ice age giants, and about the ancient people who shared their prehistoric world. Amazing fossils and frozen specimens have revealed how mammoths looked, what they ate, and how they grew.

But for all that is known, many questions remain, both for scientists and the public.

Whodunit?

The biggest unsolved mammoth mystery is also one of the oldest: What caused their extinction? Smithsonian paleontologist Frederic A. Lucas tackled this question over a century ago. “As to why the mammoth became extinct, we know absolutely nothing, although various theories, some much more ingenious than plausible, have been advanced to account for their extermination,” he wrote. A hundred years later, that’s still true. Scientists have narrowed things down to some leading suspects, but the available evidence has not yet allowed them to solve this very cold case.

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About Skeptic

DECEPTION IN CANCER TREATMENT SPECIAL ISSUE: The Cancer-care Industry’s Marketing is Among the Most Deceptive on the Consumer Landscape. SPECIAL SECTION: Classic Skepticism: The Amityville Hoax at 40; Alien Sulls: Do the Mysterious Rhodope Skull and Adygea Skulls Belong to Aliens?; The Real Meaning Behind the Nazca Geoglyphs; Clown Panics: Sightings of Mysterious Clowns Rattle Nerves ARTICLES: The Case for a Galactic Defense System; Is “Spirituality” so Broadly Defined that Testing for it is Meaningless?; Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?; Luck and Regression to the Mean: One of the Most Fundamental Sources of Error in Human Judgment; Political Obfuscation: Thinking Critically about Public Discourse. COLUMNS: The SkepDoc: Anti-Aging Claims: The Fountain of Youth is Still Only a Legend, by Harriet Hall, M.D.; The Gadfly: Can Working Memory Be Trained to Work Better? by Carol Tavris REVIEWS: “Three books about the Salem Witch Trials and their legacy: The Witches: Salem, by Stacy Schiff; In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, by Mary Beth Norton; America Bewitched: America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem, by Owen Davies JUNIOR SKEPTIC: Mammoth Mysteries! Part Two, by Daniel Loxton