- Genus/Species: Mammuthus primigenius
- Conservation Status: Extinct
- Location: Northern America and Northern Eurasia during the last Ice Age
Ice Age Elephant
Wooly Mammoths are extinct elephant-like animals that lived from about 2 million years ago to 9,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. These mammoths lived in the tundra of Asia, Europe, and North America. They lived in two groups and one group stayed in the middle of the high Arctic while the other woolly mammoth group had a much wider range. Woolly Mammoths had long, dense, dark black hair, a fatty hump, and a long nose-like a trunk. They had large, elaborately curved tusks. Both the males and females had tusks, but the females’ tusks were smaller. The tusks began to form at birth and continued growing throughout life. These animals were well adapted to survive in the icy climate. In addition to two layers of fur, they had an insulating layer of fat to keep them warm, and their ears were tiny, while their tail was small to prevent heat loss.
Woolly Mammoths were about the size of the elephants that you see today. This Ice Age elephant ate grass, mosses, ferns and shrubs. It used its huge curved tusks to scrape away snow to get to vegetation. By the end of the last Ice Age, pretty much all the world's Mammoths had succumbed to climate change and hunting by humans. However, a small population of Woolly Mammoths lived on Wrangel Island, off the coast of Siberia, until 1700 B.C. Today, whatever knowledge we have about these animals has been obtained by examining their fossils, and the frozen carcasses found in Siberia.
Did You Know?
- Besides their long, shaggy coats, Woolly Mammoths are famous for their extra-long tusks, which measured up to 15 feet on the biggest males.
- Early humans hunted these beasts for their pelts as well as their meat.
- A woolly mammoth consumed nearly 700 pounds of vegetation daily.
- With sensitive tips of its trunk, a mammoth could also delicately pick buds, flowers, and shorter grasses.