As the ice age was ending and the number of mammoths dwindled, the few remaining drifted apart and social structures deteriorated. DNA analysis shows high levels of the stress hormone coritisol present near the time of death. Scientists theorize that the lack of a herd social life caused severe loneliness and stress.
The director of California Museum of Natural Science said "It's a shame that these majestic creatures died in such sad, wretched conditions. This research tells us that these animals needed bonds of family and friendship to flourish. It's a strong lesson for humanity".
A decades long project examining hundreds of caveman paintings revealed a story about "Bully", the world's most famous mammoth. In the archaeological community, these paintings are considered to be equivalent of a diary of Bully's life. Bully was especially hard-headed, even for a mammoth. He killed or chased away all the mammoths from his own herd due to what could best be described as a political disagreement. Mammoths typically shared resources, but Bully insisted on hoarding food and chasing away animals that looked foreign.
"Bully only liked mammoths that shared his values." says lead archaeologist at Hooba University. "Sure, he sexually violated mammoths in his own herd, but better to keep the bloodlines pure."
While it's true that Bully was a successful in-breeder, Bully's violent and erratic nature caused developmental issues for the young calves. Bully would not allow mothers to publicly nurse their young.
Janet Fitzsimmons, a freshman visiting the Bully exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Boston commented that "Bully sounds like a stupid prehistoric monster." Jared Bonner, a senior, interrupted Janet to say "Bully was just a strong alpha mammoth. But what do you know, you're just a freshman."
The story of Bully is a complicated one and scientists are still piecing together the chapters.
Jared Bonner, "All I know is Bully was a great mammoth. He basically had sex with all the mammoths and ate all the food. Sounds like my kind of mammoth".
Forensic evidence shows that Bully was killed by a tribe of early humans who were "sick of that bullshit".