Mystery of the Ice Age Giants

Mystery of the Ice Age Giants


“Man or climate?” asks the voiceover near the start of this, posing the key question: was it a warming planet or human hunters that caused the extinction of animals like woolly mammoths? The other key question in any documentary involving mammoths is, how good are the digitally-generated creatures? And here, they’re good.

Mammoth fur wafts believably in the ice-age breeze as the CGI sequences do just enough to help us picture a world where vast steppes had replaced forests – “a cold, worldwide Serengeti” as the narration puts it. Meanwhile, we follow scientists as they search for fossilised bones and teeth in Canada – and find one handsome tusk just lying around on a riverbank.


World-famous mammoth expert Dick Mol traces the extraordinary history of woolly mammoths from their origins in southern Africa to their extinction 3,700 years ago. Mammoths expanded their territory over the millennia and theirs is a story of one of nature's greatest adaptations from tropical warmth to extreme cold. However, as they specialised in surviving the ice ages, they limited their chances of survival in the greenhouse conditions of a changing climate. Professor Mol traces this path of evolution and extinction, from the Namibian desert, to the Canadian permafrost, to the ancient steppe of what is today the bottom of the North Sea.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Dick Mol
Nature History