Mammuthus primigenius

  • Mammoths are member of an extinct group of elephants found as fossils in Pleistocene deposits over every continent except Australia and South America and in early Holocene deposits of North America.
  • The woolly mammoth (M. primigenius), developed about 400,000 years ago in East Asia, it was generally assumed that the last woolly mammoths vanished from Europe and Southern Siberia in around 8,000 BC.
  • Some survived on Russia’s Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean until as recently as roughly 3,700 to 4,000 years ago,
  • They were herbivorous animals that survived on a purely plant-based diet.



Shoulder height – 2.7 – 3.4 m

Weight up to 6 tonnes


Shoulder height – 2.6–2.9 m

Weighing up to 4 tonnes

  • Newborn calf would have weighed about 90 kg
  • Woolly Mammoths had a yellowish brown undercoat about 2.5 cm thick and a coarser outer covering of dark brown hair up to 50 cm long.
  • Under the extremely thick skin was a layer of insulating fat at times 8 cm thick.
  • The skull in Mammuthuswas high and domelike.
  • It had enormous tusks which would have been used for both digging and collecting food, and for intimidating and fighting off both predators and rivals.
  • These tusks were curved and could easily be up to 5 meters long.
  • Both sexes bore tusks, the first set appeared at about the age of six months, and these were replaced at about 18 months by the permanent set.
  • Their ears were small and were adaptively advantageous for the cold climate; the smaller amount of exposed surface area diminished heat losses.
  • A mound of fat was present as a hump on the back. This structure is lacking in fossil remains, but evidence for its presence comes from cave paintings.
  • Mammoths were extant during the construction of the Great Pyramid of ancient Egypt.
  • It had only one real predator in its natural environment which was sabre-toothed cats that would often hunt the smaller woolly mammoth calves.
  • Fossil mammoth ivory was previously so abundant that it was exported from Siberia to China and Europe from medieval times.

Causes for extinction

  • The warming trend that occurred 12,000 years ago, accompanied by the glacial retreat and rising sea levels is supposed to have reduced the habitat for mammoth.
  • During these period, forests replaced the open woodlands and grasslands across the continent.
  • Also, the spread of advanced human hunters through out northernEurasia and the Americas might have contributed to the extinction of the mammoth.
  • Woolly mammoth is probably the best known of any prehistoric animal due to the many frozen specimens with preserved soft tissue and depictions by contemporary humans in their art.
  • Fossil assemblages and cave paintings of Woolly mammoths suggests of social behaviours probably were similar to those of modern elephants.