Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius)

The winter is slowly ending; snow is melting and we dedicate a short piece to one of the largest mammals from the last Ice Age – the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius).

The mammoth from BHL

During the late Pleistocene, Mammuthus primigenius occupied the grassland areas of Eurasia and North America. This mammal, closely related to today’s Indian elephant, grew to 4.5 m and could weigh up to 4000 kg. It fed mainly on different sorts of grass. The hair of Mammuthus primigenius was up to 60 cm long and its color ranged from tawny through brown to black. In addition to bones, scientists have recovered much information about Mammuthus primigenius from frozen specimens in Siberian permafrost.

Skeleton of the woolly mammoth from BHL

As a matter of fact, it is not true that all Woolly Mammoths were large animals. The dwarf subspecies of Mammuthus primigenius grew only to 1.8 m in height. This small chap occupied Wrangel Island from approximately 10,000 to 2,000 years BC! So these dwarf mammoths lived during the times of building the Egyptian pyramids.

Old reconstruction of mammoth from BHL

The extinction of mammoths is still a matter of debate. There are two possibilities currently under consideration, climatic change and human influence. Today, more scientists prefer the first option – climatic change. They claim that the occurrence of prehistoric people in Siberia was very rare, so they were not capable of killing off thousands of mammoths.

The mandible of woolly mammoth from Europeana

If you are interested in these prehistoric creatures books from BHL portal contains much information about woolly mammoths. Stay tuned!

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