MAMMOTH – MIGHTY ELEPHANT

August 13, 2020 By RJ

Mammoth is any species of the extinct elephantid genus Mammuthus, one of the many genera that make up the order of trunked mammals called proboscideans. The various species of mammoth were commonly equipped with long, curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair.

mammoth

When did mammoths roam the Earth?

  • Mammoths lived on North America’s mainland until about 10,000 years ago, but they survived in two places for much longer: St Paul Island and Wrangel Island, in the Russian Arctic, where teeth have been found that are only 4,000 years old.
  • St Paul is a volcanic island that until around 9,000 years ago was connected to the mainland by the Bering Land Bridge, which enabled animals to roam freely to and fro.
  • But as the climate warmed and sea levels rose, it became isolated – and they were trapped. They were the only large mammal on the island, with no predators.

10 Facinating Facts about Mammoth

1)Contrary to common belief, the woolly was hardly mammoth in size : They were roughly about the size of modern African elephants. A male woolly mammoth’s shoulder height was 9 to 11 feet tall and weighed around 6 tons. Its cousin the Steppe mammoth was perhaps the largest one in the family growing up to 13 to 15 feet tall.

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2)The ears of a woolly mammoth were shorter than the modern elephant’s ears: Like their thick coat of fur, their shortened ears were an important cold-weather adaptation because it minimized frostbite and heatloss.

3)Scientists can discern it’s age from the rings of its tusk, like looking at the rings of a tree: The tusk yields more finite detail than a tree trunk, revealing a major line for each year and a line for the weeks and days in between. Scientists can even tell the season when a woolly mammoth died as the darker increments correspond to summers. The thickness or thinness of the rings indicate the health of the the mammal during that time; the tusk would grow more during favorable conditions.

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4)This was not the only “woolly” type of animal: The woolly rhinoceros, also known as the Coelodonta, co-existed with the woolly mammoth, walking the Earth during the Pleistocene epoch. Like the those, the woolly rhino adapted to the cold with a furry coat, was depicted by human ancestors in cave paintings and became extinct around the same time.
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5)Cave paintings drawn by ice age humans show the important relationship they had with the woolly mammoths: The Rouffignac cave in France has 158 depictions of mammoths, making up about 70% of the represented animals that date back to the Upper Paleolithic period. There is also evidence of the use of bones and tusks by humans to create portable art objects, shelters, tools, furniture and even burials.

mammoth
 Rouffignac cave

6)Today, the hunt is on for it’s tusks in the Arctic Siberia: Due to global warming, the melting permafrost has begun revealing these hidden ivory treasures for a group of local tusk-hunters to find and sell. A tusk can range from 10-13 foot in length and a top-grade of it’s tusk is worth around $400 per pound.It’s ivory, unlike elephant ivory, is legal.

7)The first fully documented woolly skeleton was discovered in 1799: It was brought to the Zoological Museum of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science in 1806 where Wilhelm Gottlieb Tilesius put the pieces together. Basing his task off of an Indian elephant skeleton, Tilesius was successful in reconstructing the first skeleton of an extinct animal except for one error. He put the tusks in the wrong sockets, so that they curved outward instead of inward.

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8)The coat of a those are consisted of a “guard” of foot long hairs, and an undercoat of shorter hairs: Preserve its hair looks orange in color, however researchers believe the pigment was changed because of prolonged burial in the ground.

9)Even a kid can discover a preserved mammoth.  In September 2012 in Russia, an 11-year-old boy named Yevgeny “Zhenya” Salinder happened upon an extremely well-preserved woolly mammoth carcass while walking his dogs.  The remains were of a 16-year-old male that died about 30,000 years ago. The discovery helped scientists conclude that the large “lumps” on it’s back were extra stores of fat to help it survive winters. The mammoth was nicknamed Zhenya.

10)The final resting place of woolly mammoths was Wrangel Island in the Arctic: Although, most of the it’s population died out by 10,000 years ago, a small population of 500-1000 woolly mammoths lived on Wrangel Island until 1650 BC. That’s only about 4,000 years ago! For context, Egyptian pharoahs were midway through their empire and it was about 1000 years after the Giza pyramids were built. The reason for the demise of these woolly mammoths are unknown.