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


  • Hobnob Head
    Hobnob Head   15 hours ago

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

  • Rajan Rao
    Rajan Rao   4 days ago

    what about the island scrub-jay

  • kurokuyo
    kurokuyo   1 weeks ago

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

  • matthew ulrich
    matthew ulrich   1 weeks ago

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

  • Carson Joshua Segales

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

  • Emerson Lamond
    Emerson Lamond   1 weeks 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   2 weeks ago

    Can do the island of mini dinosaurs of Europe?

  • srijan saxena
    srijan saxena   1 months ago

    Humans, making species extinct since forever

    POOH_LY   1 months ago

    Mammoths: This place is so safe. There is no predatos here. Such a peaceful island.Humans: I am about to end this man's whole career.

  • Dirt Girl
    Dirt Girl   1 months ago

    all of the mammoths look so sweet and friendly

  • Alexandria
    Alexandria   1 months ago

    u think the mammoths were like "hey i dare you to swim out to that island" "no way, you do it with me" "ok fine"

  • Danny Kid
    Danny Kid   1 months ago

    It would be cool to do an episode on the waco mammoths

  • Mark Rowland
    Mark Rowland   1 months ago

    The island of Kodiac has a giant breed of Brown bear. My answer, as to which breed of bear is the largest was declared wrong. This lost me $80,000 in a TV quiz some thirty years back.

  • Grey Wolf
    Grey Wolf   1 months ago

    I love the content of these but the presenter's voice makes my teeth ache! Got to go because she's giving me a migraine :(

  • Rob Cabrera
    Rob Cabrera   1 months ago

    Are mammoths just old elephants? I thought all of them where bigger and had thick fur!Edit: I googled it, and it turns out that Mammoths, African Elephants, and Asian Elephants are three distinct groups of Eliphantidae. When you see them side by side it's easy to see the differences. Mastodons are a complete other thing too.

  • Neon omar
    Neon omar   1 months ago

    I've seen smaller. Source: Journey 2: the Mysterious Island.

  • lemony
    lemony   1 months ago

    is it just me that the mammoths look like they are smiling?

  • Eric Chapman
    Eric Chapman   2 months ago

    dude thank you so much... whats funny is I CAME UP WITH SAME THEORY WITHOUT READING BOOKS IN MY UNDERWEAR ON MY OWN ISLAND... insular dwarfism is my favorite, most exciting phenomena... i was actually going to ask for you to make a video about this.

  • Bodil Fabian-Lamijon
    Bodil Fabian-Lamijon   2 months ago

    Off-topic, but her makeup and outfit look really nice together and match her well

  • SoundbytesMusic
    SoundbytesMusic   2 months ago

    Very close to my home at Goslar/Germany a dwarfed sauropode was discovered. The fossil dates back 154m years when the place was an island in an ocean (near Braunschweig about 30 km from here a number of ichtiosuars have been dug up. ).

  • Kapoooww
    Kapoooww   2 months ago

    Yeah, it’s her, I’ve tried but can’t with her voice

  • Rishad D'souza
    Rishad D'souza   2 months ago

    I've heard Sri Lankan leopards are a lot bigger than leopards in geographies that also house bigger predators like India and Africa.

  • JCBs Sailing Into the Sunset

    Imagine growing up as an early human on any of the Channel Islands, knowing nothing but the island and the barrier of water encapsulating it....the little mammoths, the isolation...I bet it was a life like nobody but perhapsthe residents of the isolated island...North Sentinel India could understand

  • Off Grid Unhinged
    Off Grid Unhinged   2 months ago

    Also, when the pigmy mammoths were eaten by cavemen, they said, "Mmmm. These pigmy mammoths taste so insular."

  • Carolus Rex
    Carolus Rex   2 months ago

    The real question is why the hell that swan is attacking that little mammoth? Is that ancient swan carnivorous?

  • Raunak Roy
    Raunak Roy   2 months ago

    This was explained in the Discovery Channel show 'Pod's Travels'

  • Camden Tucker
    Camden Tucker   2 months ago

    i went to santa cruz island for a field studies collaborative through my high school and i gave a presentation on the pygmy mammoth!

  • diane guarino
    diane guarino   2 months ago

    I saw videos of existing mammoth in Siberia. They are not recent but they should still be alive. One was crossing a river and the other was near a building it turned and walked away through the snow. They are not the tall ones of the Americas. The one in the snow had a straight back still it was large but not as big as it's American cousin.

  • MrJeffcoley1
    MrJeffcoley1   2 months ago

    Fun theory: The very large Komodo dragon might be an example of an island dwarf. The extinct megalania lizard, which is similar to the Komodo dragon, was much larger.