The Island of Shrinking Mammoths

  • Published on: 05 February 2019
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    The mammoths fossils found on the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California are much smaller than their relatives found on the mainland. They were so small that they came to be seen as their own species. How did they get there? And why were they so small?

    Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the mammoth reconstructions throughout this episode. Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at and

    Thanks to Julio Lacerda and Studio 252mya for the Palaeoloxodon illustrations. You can find more of Julio's work here:

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios:

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    “Extreme expansion of the olfactory receptor gene repertoire in African elephants and evolutionary dynamics of orthologous gene groups in 13 placental mammals.” Niimura Y, Matsui A, Touhara K. 2014.
    Evolution of Island Mammals: Adaptation and Extinction of Placental Mammals on Islands by Alexandra van der Geer, George Lyras, John de Vos and Michael Dermitzakis.
    Niimura Y, Matsui A, Touhara K. 2014. Extreme expansion of the olfactory receptor gene repertoire in African elephants and evolutionary dynamics of orthologous gene groups in 13 placental mammals. Genome Res doi: 10.1101/gr.169532.113
    "Sea level, paleogeography, and archeology on California's Northern
    Channel Islands," by Reeder-Myers et al. 2015.
  • Runtime : 12:15
  • dinosaurs dinos paleo paleontology scishow eons pbs pbs digital studios hank green john green complexly fossils natural history California Channel Islands mammoth Columbian mammoths pygmy mammoths Santa Rosa Island Robert Stearns tusk Pleistocene Epoch Santarosae Foster’s Rule Insular Dwarfism Younger Dryas glaciers Palaeoloxodon


  • Fredrik Dunge
    Fredrik Dunge   1 days ago

    5:10 Is it possible there may have been something in the water which could pick off the smaller predators but not huge animals like mammoth? Orcas for an example. A swimming wolf even a large wolf would have been an easy target for an orca.

  • Fredrik Dunge
    Fredrik Dunge   1 days ago

    4:15 Because they're better swimmers than their predators were.

  • Kendra Hanna
    Kendra Hanna   1 weeks ago

    Trapped In A Island With Josh Mammothson

  • Zack Morrison
    Zack Morrison   1 weeks ago

    "Been spendin' most their lives livin' in a (pygmy) mammoth's paradise..." by Coolio (ice age) ft. The Notorious P.Y.G.

  • Flint Pet
    Flint Pet   1 weeks ago

    Yeah just swim across a frozen lake

  • Iamnotpau
    Iamnotpau   2 weeks ago

    Am I the only one that always gets so proud when a species advances to new lands or survives for a long period of time ?

  • Sergio Alcantara
    Sergio Alcantara   2 weeks ago

    “Few thousand kilometers away” Thank you so much American companies for caring more about foreigners then us, the ones who made you in the first place. Never watching this channel again. You American companies that leave us for foreigners sicken me.

  • W.W.
    W.W.   1 months ago

    Looking to clone a pygmy Pachyderm...tuskless obviously. Anyone have some DNA? Great Danes aren't that great

  • daprofessor 12
    daprofessor 12   1 months ago

    "Imagine, a pint-sized elephant that you could keep in the house."

  • wcdeich4
    wcdeich4   1 months ago

    I'd like to learn about seal evolution

  • Purple Fire 28
    Purple Fire 28   1 months ago

    2:28So uh... No one's going to mention the cursed giant ground sloth?

  • Antoine Fenech
    Antoine Fenech   2 months ago

    Here in Malta like in Cyprus we fosilis of small Elephants. check Ghar Dalam.

  • Francis Lim
    Francis Lim   2 months ago

    Ever wonder why early humans were smaller in sizes and under developed likes during the WWII,Japanese,Chinese and Koreans were short and small due to lack of food,understanding about nutrients intakes were non existent,but modern Asian are growing larger,even the Knights in Armour are on average about 5 foot tall.

  • Dan Stevens
    Dan Stevens   2 months ago

    Pygmy mammoth, slightly contracting

  • Kirla
    Kirla   2 months ago

    So, how many prehistoric species have we probably vanished? (previous modern anthropogenic mass extinction)

  • Dipstikk
    Dipstikk   2 months ago

    "Huge hedgehogs"Robotnik starts hyperventilating

  • Lil Ra Ra
    Lil Ra Ra   2 months ago

    Small for a elephant,but still could probably flip over a car with ease lmfao

  • Madison
    Madison   3 months ago

    Lil' Mammoth is a cool rap name.

  • Z Ramirez
    Z Ramirez   3 months ago

    Where's TierZoo to do a min/maxing video???

  • Michael Misanik
    Michael Misanik   3 months ago

    Just wondering could you guys do an episode about the once massive Amblyrhiza inundata that  lived on St Martin and Anguilla.

  • El_Guapo 13
    El_Guapo 13   3 months ago

    Dang it. We could have had small domesticated breeds of mammoths in place of horses. They would have been way more useful too, as they could use their trunks to lift things.

  • Hobnob Head
    Hobnob Head   3 months ago

    I want to know about these Swans that hunt Elephants! 😂

  • Rajan Rao
    Rajan Rao   3 months ago

    what about the island scrub-jay

  • kurokuyo
    kurokuyo   3 months ago

    Why did the Mammoth swim to the island? The grass was greener.

  • matthew ulrich
    matthew ulrich   3 months ago

    2:40 sounds like global warming happened over and over those mega mammals farted too much !!!!

  • Carson Joshua Segales
    Carson Joshua Segales   3 months ago

    Can foster's rule apply to humans also?? Is this why people like from the philippines are small in size?

  • Emerson Lamond
    Emerson Lamond   4 months ago

    at 8:27 you have Norfolk island pines, I don't think they were present in california at this time period

  • Ryan Holloway
    Ryan Holloway   4 months ago

    Can do the island of mini dinosaurs of Europe?

  • srijan saxena
    srijan saxena   4 months ago

    Humans, making species extinct since forever