Camelus knoblochi lived out its final days in Mongolia — and may have been prey for our human ancestors.
New research by archaeologists in Mongolia, Russia, and the United States is revealing previously unknown information about the ancient giant camels that once roamed the Central Asian grasslands.
Recently published in Frontiers in Earth Science, the study looks at Camelus knoblochi, a species of giant camel that scientists now believe coexisted with early humans and other wild camels that still live in Asia today.
While remains of C. knoblochi have previously been found across Asia, from the Caspian Sea to Siberia, the study’s authors believe that Mongolia was the last home of this giant species before it went extinct.
Dr. John W. Olsen, co-author of the study and Regents’ Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, says, “Here we show that the extinct camel Camelus knoblochi persisted in Mongolia until climatic and environmental changes nudged it into extinction about 27,000 years ago.”
Camelus knoblochi roamed the Central Asian steppes for 250,000 years. The creature was nearly 10 feet tall and weighed more than 2,200 pounds, nearly double the size of modern wild camels. The shaggy beast had two humps and feasted on grass and other plants.
Olsen, along with the other authors of the study, posits that climate change led to the giant camel’s demise toward the end of the last Ice Age.
In the Late Pleistocene era — between 129,000 and 11,700 years ago — Mongolia’s climate became more and more arid, slowly changing from steppe, to dry steppe, and then to desert. These new conditions made it harder for the huge C. knoblochi to survive.
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