Mammoths went extinct several thousand years ago. Since it is hard to study something that is nonexistent, information remains limited about those giant creatures. Nevertheless, thanks to modern technology and well-preserved remnants of these ice age giants, we know some things about their physical appearances, habits, and other interesting characteristics.
By studying some of the available information, I listed the 10 most interesting facts about mammoths. I hope these facts will help you to know Mammoths in depth.
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1. Mammoths and Elephants share the same ancestral roots.
According to the article posted by the National Geographic, German scientists conducted a DNA testing using the Wooly Mammoth bones unearthed in Siberia and the samples from the Asian and the African elephants. Interestingly, the researchers discovered some genetical similarities between the Woolly mammoths and the Asian Elephants. The research concluded that both of these giants came from the same root, but diverged to their own separate species 6 million years ago.
2. Mammoths went extinct about 4000 years ago, during the Holocene Epoch.
Previous beliefs suggested that mainly hunting activities of early humans drove the Mammoths into the extinction. However, new pieces of evidence deny the sole human responsibility for such demise.
Now, the number one suspect for the mass extinction is considered to be a global warming which took place right after the last ice age. Scientists theorize that Mammoths could have gone extinct because they could not handle the warm weather since their bodies were very much accustomed to the cold climate.
Another interesting theory on mammoth extinction points the finger at unearthly objects, such as comets. Scientists found some geological pieces of evidence on the earth layers. During the geological studies, traces of molten rocks and dust was discovered in some areas where mammoth roamed freely thousands of years ago. If the massive comet really has hit the earth during the Holocene epoch, then it can explain how the American continent cooled and how the massive ice sheets started to melt down.
3. Mammoths were herbivores, meaning they retained an energy only by sticking to a plant-based based diet.
When we try to imagine the scenery of the ice age, the image of a massive land, covered with ice sheets, hits our mind. It is hard to imagine much vegetation and grasslands in the area where the climate is freezing cold.
If so, how could the woolly mammoths find their food to sustain an energy for their humongous body? Scientists are also interested in finding an answer to that question. So, in order to learn the main diet of mammoths as well as other creatures of that era, researchers from the University of Alberta studied the stomach contents of an ancient mammoth. During the research, they detected remnants of forbs (plants similar to modern day permafrost plants).
4. 42,000-year-old baby mammoth is considered to be the most well-preserved carcass of a mammoth.
Thanks to the preserving properties of ice, some mammoths came to our days locked in time. Meaning, although thousands of years had passed, ice preserved carcasses of some mammoths in a decent condition, enabling scientists to conduct precise observations on them.
The most preserved mammoth among them is one-month-old mammoth calf called Lyuba (Lyuba means “Love” in Russian). The body of Lyuba was so well-preserved even the blood clots in its veins remained detectable. Using the developed CT scanning techniques, scientists revealed the final moments of Lyuba’s life. According to the theorized scenario, Lyuba tried to cross over the lake and fell into the bottom where she choked on mud and lost consciousness.
5. Baby mammoths ate adult mammoths’ feces.
I know it is quite disgusting, but it is fact. The well-preserved carcass of a baby mammoth found in Yamal Peninsula of Western Siberia (referring to Lyuba) contains the evidence that young mammoths, not being able to chew the grass properly, consumed the feces of adults.
However, it is not quite unusual for some animals to eat leavings of adults. Even the baby elephant of our civilized time do that too. In fact, it is actually a crucial consumption for baby elephants in order to develop the digestive bacteria which are not present when they are born.
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6. Woolly, Northern and Siberian mammoths were the most common types.
As their name suggests, they were called according to their locations. For instance, Northern Mammoths mostly dwelled in the North American regions. Siberian mammoths were dominant in Siberian regions of Russia.
We should also note that mammoth carcasses being discovered in the Siberian region serve as great samples for scientists to base their researches on. Because some parts of Siberia is still frozen, and bodies of mammoths being found in that area are in mostly intact condition as long as they hadn’t been scavenged by forest foxes and wolves.
7. Early humans draw the images of giant mammoths on the cave walls.
The Rouffignac Cave is probably the best place to observe many mammoth paintings on the walls of a cave. There are about 158 individual 13000-year-old drawings which depict mammoths. That is why Rouffignac is called The Cave of the Hundred Mammoths. The drawings are believed to be the handworks of Paleolithic humans.
8. Female mammoths may have lived in groups while sexually mature males wondered around on their own.
This social system may remind you of the one run by modern day elephants. Female elephants along with juvenile males stick around in social groups to deter the possible dangers. Male elephants, however, leave their group when it is time to find their mates.
Scientists suggest a society of mammoths was pretty much similar to that of elephants. Fossilized footprints left on the soft surfaces indicate that female mammoths indeed walked in a group with their young ones.
9. Woolly mammoths survived in the freezing cold temperature thanks to their thick fur and fatty skin layer.
We all know that we need an extra layer in order to keep ourselves warm. So, we wear a jacket or a coat. Woolly mammoths have something much better. Their warm insulation is built in naturally. Compared to the modern day elephants, mammoths possessed thick fur with blond or dark brown colors and a layer of 4-inch under-skin fat that covered the entire body. Thanks to those natural gifts, mammoths survived in the ice age for millions of years.
10. An average lifespan of a mammoth was between 60 to 80 years.
Mammoths could not live long after their last set of teeth wore away. In order to sustain their energy, mammoths ate about 500 lbs (225kg) plants, trees, and grasses a day. Once they are no longer able to grind the vegetation, their active life declined, eventually leading to death.
If these 10 facts about mammoths taught you something new, please share with others to show your appreciation.