Mammuthus primigenius, Woolly Mammoth, was adapted to the cold sagebrush steppes and snowfields of the ice margins. The glaciers caused the sea levels to drop allowing Siberia and Alaska to be joined by a grassy land bridge. It shared the world with modern humans, and the last pygmy subspecies died out less than 4,000 years ago (Lange, 2002).
Genera and Species
Classification: Proboscidea, Elephantidae, Mammuthus
Species: M. primigenius.
Synonyms: Elephas primigenius, Elephas boreus, Mammuthus boreus, Mammonteus primigenius
Woolly Mammoth had a trunk with an upper lip that was larger than the lower. The molar teeth of mammoths were large, with broad ridged surface areas that enabled it to eat large amounts of grass. It had high back bones rising to support a hump of soft tissue roughly above where its shoulders were for the purpose of fat storage. It was covered by a thick coat of over-hair over a dense layer of under-hair that provided the main insulation. The tusks were long and curved.
HEIGHT: 3 m (10 ft).
WEIGHT: 12000 - 20000 lbs.
The Woolly Mammoth is related to the Indian Elephant and like them, lived in herds comprised of females and their young. Males were either solitary or lived in bachelor herds. Adults had no predators, but the young were preyed upon by giant cats like Homotherium. They fed upon grass and the saplings of trees such as birch, which would have helped keep the plains open and covered in grass (Prothero, 2006).
History of Discovery
Discovery, Blumenbach 1799, and known from multiple remains, including bodies with full soft tissue preserved frozen in ice.
Found in North America and Eurasia in open areas such as grassy plains. The grass on these plains was not especially high in nutritional value but grew in great quantities. Although the cold climate meant that the environment would be dryer it would still periodically snow and cover the ground.
1. Knol, R. (2013, March 13). The Ice Ages. Retrieved May 22, 2014, from http://www.dinosaurcollectorsitea.com/Mamala1.html.
2. Mammuthus primigenius. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2014, from http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/m/mammuthus-primigenius-woolly-mammoth.html.
3. Lange, I. M. (2002). Ice Age Mammals of North America: a guide to the big, the hairy, and the bizarre. Missoula, Mont.: Mountain Press Pub. Co.
4. Prothero, D. R. (2006). After the dinosaurs: the age of mammals. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.