Scientists find new reason for Ice Age extinction

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Scientists Find New Reason for Ice Age Extinction

Many are familiar with mammoths, saber-toothed cats and sloths as the fun-loving characters in the "Ice Age" films.

They're cute, quirky and sharp as a whip when it comes to comebacks.

As for the real-life versions of these animals, many believe they were hunted to extinction by early man. This may not be the case, though.

Jessica Metcalf, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, has a new theory as to how exactly these animals became extinct.

The animals are classified as "megafauna," and history shows the group has mysteriously disappeared from the fossil record near the end of the last ice cage.

See photos of wooly mammoths:

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Wooly Mammoth
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Brett Crawford (top) and Matt Fair as carefully deconstruct the vertabrae of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Paleo Biology curator Matthew Carrano near the foot of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Peter May lays down the foot bones of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Portion of the jaw bone, with worn down molars, of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: View of an exhibit rendering of prehistoric mammals, among them a Wooly Mammoth (top right), whose skeleton was deconstructed today at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: (top) Crews remove an ulna and humerus of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Colleene Rowley (cqd) encases and secures in foam the bones of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton after deconstruction at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The frozen carcass of a 39,000-year-old female woolly mammoth named Yuka from the Siberian permafrost is displayed for an exhibition in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo on July 12, 2013 at a press preview before the opening. The carcass will be shown to the public during an exhibition at Pacifico Yokohama from July 13 to September 16. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
Children gaze at the woolly mammoth model at a display opening at the Taiwan National Democracy Hall, in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, July 11, 2008. Included with the display are the frozen remains of two woolly mammoths, long extinct elephants in the Ice Age uncovered from the Siberian permafrost. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
In this photo taken on Thursday, May 22, 2014, British artist Damien Hirst's latest piece entitled "Gone but Not Forgotten", which features the gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a steel and glass vitrine, is displayed at an amfAR event in Cap d'Antibes, southern France. Famed British artist Damien Hirst created the gilded woolly mammoth skeleton encased in a gold tank to be auctioned off at the annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS gala. (AP Photo/Nekesa Moody)
A hairy mammoth bull, right, cow and calf, with trees and snow in the background, is part of a scene from "Prehistoric Kansas," at Dyche Museum in Kansas City, Mo., in this 1938 file photo. A Michigan researcher at a conference Wednesday, Oct. 16, 1996, said recent studies of woolly mammoth tusks suggest that overhunting is the cause of the case of the vanishing mammoths which has troubled paleontologists for years. (AP Photo/file)
The tusks of what is believed to be a 23,000 year old woolly mammoth are carried on a reindeer sled in this picture made in early October 1999. The tusks come from the body of a woolly mammoth preserved in the ice in the Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia, Russia, 200 miles (320 kms) from the Siberian city of Khatanga. By studying its teeth, scientists determined that the 11 foot (3.3 meter) tall mammoth would have been 47 years old. The nearly perfectly preserved adult male excavated from the permafrost in a block of ice was flown to Khatanga on Oct. 17, 1999, where it will be kept frozen and studied by scientists. (AP Photo/Francis Latreille/Nova Productions)
File photo dated 23/09/14 of James Rylands, Auctioneer and Director of Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex, preparing the skeleton of an Ice Age Woolly Mammoth, which could fetch £250,000 when it is auctioned today.
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Metcalf and her team sequenced DNA from fossils found in South America to trace the genetic history of the megafauna.

Their findings showed that humans first began moving across the Americas about 15,000 years ago.

The animal extinctions didn't begin until about 12,000 years ago.

Metcalf said her team determined they "were surviving in the presence of humans for 1,000 to 3,000 years, but when the climate rapidly warmed, they died off."

It's possible the extinction could have been a direct result of the warming climate, making the megafauna more vulnerable to humans at the time.

According to the study, the data brings science one step closer to understanding exactly what occurred when animals of the Ice Age completely died off.

However, it can be argued that the study is a step backward for those who believed the "Ice Age" films were an actual portrayal of that actual time in history.

After all, Ray Romano plays a really convincing mammoth.

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