The last woolly mammoths were far from hairy when the species died out, growing a faded satin coat due to their mutated DNA, according to new research.

The mammoth also had a poor sense of smell – and sex life – just before being wiped out after suffering a ‘mutational meltdown’, the study found.

Experts say this can happen when a once-thriving species reaches the brink of extinction, as small populations develop mutations caused by inbreeding.


The final living mammoths migrated to Wrangel Island, north of Russia’s eastern tip, to escape hunting and a warming climate.

Due to genetic mutations caused by inbreeding, they had lost many olfactory receptors, meaning they had a poor sense of smell.

Faulty DNA also changed the animals’ urinary proteins, which can impact social status and mate choice.

And the island mammoths had mutations that likely created an unusual translucent satin coat.

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