A team of researchers claim that rapid climate change thousands of years ago played a key role in extinction of large animals like mammoths and giant sloths.
An International research team from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales has revealed that short, rapid warming events recorded during the last ice age coincided with major extinction events even before the appearance of man.
Lead author Alan Cooper said that the abrupt warming had profoundly impacted the climate which caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns.
Cooper said that adding the modern addition of human pressures and fragmenting of the environment to the rapid changes brought by global warming raised serious concerns about the future of our environment.
Ten years ago, the researchers detected a pattern in ancient DNA studies and suggested the rapid disappearance of large species.
The researchers were surprised to find the opposite as more fossil-DNA became available from museum specimen collections and through improvements in carbon dating and temperature records that showed better resolution through time.
It became increasingly clear to the researchers that rapid warming was the cause of the extinctions during the last glacial maximum.
The research is published in journal science.