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


  • Antoine Fenech
    Antoine Fenech   1 weeks ago

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

  • Francis Lim
    Francis Lim   2 weeks 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   1 months ago

    Pygmy mammoth, slightly contracting

  • Kirla
    Kirla   1 months ago

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

  • Dipstikk
    Dipstikk   1 months ago

    "Huge hedgehogs"Robotnik starts hyperventilating

  • Lil Ra Ra
    Lil Ra Ra   1 months ago

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

  • Madison
    Madison   1 months ago

    Lil' Mammoth is a cool rap name.

  • Z Ramirez
    Z Ramirez   1 months ago

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

  • Michael Misanik
    Michael Misanik   1 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   1 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   1 months ago

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

  • Rajan Rao
    Rajan Rao   1 months ago

    what about the island scrub-jay

  • kurokuyo
    kurokuyo   2 months ago

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

  • matthew ulrich
    matthew ulrich   2 months ago

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

  • Carson Joshua Segales
    Carson Joshua Segales   2 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   2 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   2 months ago

    Can do the island of mini dinosaurs of Europe?

  • srijan saxena
    srijan saxena   2 months ago

    Humans, making species extinct since forever

    POOH_LY   3 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   3 months ago

    all of the mammoths look so sweet and friendly

  • Alexandria
    Alexandria   3 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   3 months ago

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

  • Mark Rowland
    Mark Rowland   3 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   3 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   3 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   3 months ago

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

  • lemony
    lemony   3 months ago

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

  • J C
    J C   3 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.