Scientists find new reason for Ice Age extinction

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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Woolly mammoth discoveries made throughout history
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Woolly mammoth discoveries made throughout history
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.
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)
Mammoth researcher Professor Adrian Lister, left, and curator of the Shemanovsky Museum Galina Karzanova pose for members of the media looking at Lyuba, a baby woolly mammoth considered to be the most complete example of the species ever found, at the Natural History Museum in London, Monday, May 19, 2014. Lyuba, her name taken from the word for love in Russian, was discovered frozen in clay and mud in Russia's Yamal Peninsula of Siberia in 2007 and is estimated to have died around 42,000 years ago at one month old. She is 85cm tall and 130 cm long, and is on loan from Russia's Shemanovsky Museum to feature in the exhibition "Mammoths: Ice Age Giants", which runs from March 23 to September 7. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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: 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: (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)
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)
Mammoth researcher Professor Adrian Lister, left, and curator of the Shemanovsky Museum Galina Karzanova pose for members of the media looking at Lyuba, a baby woolly mammoth considered to be the most complete example of the species ever found, at the Natural History Museum in London, Monday, May 19, 2014. Lyuba, her name taken from the word for love in Russian, was discovered frozen in clay and mud in Russia's Yamal Peninsula of Siberia in 2007 and is estimated to have died around 42,000 years ago at one month old. She is 85cm tall and 130 cm long, and is on loan from Russia's Shemanovsky Museum to feature in the exhibition "Mammoths: Ice Age Giants", which runs from March 23 to September 7. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
In this image made available on Thursday, May 30, 2013 from Rossiya television a mammoth carcass lies in snow on the Arctic Lyakhovsky Island, Russia. Russian researchers say they have discovered a perfectly preserved woolly mammoth carcass with liquid blood on a remote Arctic island, fueling hopes of cloning the Ice Age animal. The frozen remains of a female mammoth were so well preserved that blood came running out after it was recovered from ice. (AP Photo/Rossiya Television, AP Video) TV OUT
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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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