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Last Updated: Wednesday August 18 2010 12:31 GMT

Woolly mammoths made extinct by climate change not man

Artist's impression of mammoths

Woolly mammoths died out because of climate change and NOT because humans hunted them to extinction.

The last mammoths lived around 4,000 years ago and pre-historic man has long been blamed for their disappearance.

But scientists now think it was down to rising temperatures making forests spring up in place of the grasslands that mammoths fed on.

They think this happened after the coldest part of the last ice age, about 21,000 years ago.

During the ice age, it was cold and dry and trees don't grow very well in this climate.

But that changed towards the end of the ice age when the earth got warmer and wetter.

The woolly mammoth was once common across many parts of Europe.

They retreated to northern Siberia about 14,000 years ago, the place where they finally died out.

Scientists have long argued about how mammoths became extinct. There's even a theory that they were wiped out by a meteor strike!