Extinction of Icelandic walrus coincides with Norse settlement

ScienceDaily | Sep 13, 2019 at 4:01 PM
  • The presence of walruses in Iceland in the past and its apparent disappearance as early as in the Settlement and Commonwealth periods (870-1262 AD) has long puzzled the scientific world.
  • DNA was extracted from natural finding sites and archaeological excavations of walrus samples, and compared to data from contemporary walruses, documenting that the Icelandic walrus constituted a genetically unique lineage, distinct from all other historic and contemporary walrus populations in the North Atlantic.
  • Most examples of trade and human overexploitation and extinction of local marine resources are of much more recent date, such as overfishing, and commercial whaling for the past three centuries or so.