Neolithic Critter: Woolly Mammoth

The Woolly Mammoth is a prehistoric animal who became extinct about 3900 years ago when the last ice age ended. Scientists have a lot of information about what this animal looked like thanks to the discovery of frozen mammoth carcasses in Alaska and Siberia. In 2012, in an area where he walked his dogs, an 11 year old Russian kid discovered the remnants of what turned out to be a very well preserved 30,000 year old woolly Mammoth. In 2013, in Russia, scientists discovered a baby woolly mammoth in an ice tomb. Every so often a Woolly Mammoth body parts will be discovered as well.

Woolly Mammoth Facts
• In 1796, Georges Cuvier, a French Zoologist, was the first to identify the Woolly Mammoth as an extinct species of the elephant.
• Similar in size and features to the Asian elephant, the adult Woolly Mammoth was approximately 10 feet tall (3 meters) and weighted about 6 tons (5443 kg). Newborns weighed approximately 200 pounds (90kg) at birth. Females are less.
• Early humans killed Woolly Mammoths for a number of reasons. They ate the meat, but they also made art, homes and tools out of the bones and tusks, and fur to keep warm.
• Why did the Woolly Mammoth become extinct? A definitive reason for why they became extinct is not available; however most scientists believe climate change and hunting caused its demise.

• Although ethical questions remain, the possibility exists that scientists could use the Woolly Mammoth’s genetic material with a female elephants, to one day clone and recreate the animal.
• Using there big molar teeth, the Woolly Mammoth was a herbivore that ate a variety of leaves, fruits, berries, nuts, and twigs.
• Similar to the rings on a tree, or clogged arteries on a human, scientists can determine the age and health of a Woolly Mammoth by the rings on its tusks.
• Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, may have been the last known home of about 500-1000 Woolly Mammoths until just before 1700 BC when they fully became extinct.


Woolly Mammoths are different
• The Woolly Mammoth lived in extremely cold, arctic environments. Using there thick skin, fur, and small ears, they became well adapted to survive in this type of habitat.
• As the name suggests, the Woolly Mammoth was covered with fur but to really keep them warm, they had about four inches of pure fat for insulation underneath their skin.
• The ears and tail of the Woolly Mammoth were relatively short so they would not get frostbite and to minimize heat loss. Modern day elephants have ears that reach 180 cm (71″) where the Woolly Mammoth’s ears only reached about 30 cm (12″).
• Blood samples taken by scientists have determined that the hemoglobin of the Woolly Mammoth was even adapted to the cold environment, allowing the animal’s tissue to be supplied with oxygen no matter what the temperature.
• The jaw and teeth of the Woolly Mammoth were more vertical than modern elephants and it is believed that it allowed them to more easily feed on grass.
• The long prominent tusks of the Woolly Mammoth could reach up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) long. They would have been used for pushing away ice and snow as well as fighting and defending.

It is believed if the Woolly mammoth is cloned, it will have problems digesting due to the difference of thousands of years of microbes (things and bacteria in stomach that help digest food). There are projects at Harvard and other institutions looking into it right now! There are also ethical questions about using female elephants embryo’s, a number of times, to hybrid, then re-create the species (3-4 breeding cycles after). What do you think? Do Canadians, Russians and Scandinavians stand a better chance to recreate the species, using there arctic north, perhaps to re-invigorate post covid tourisms, with a modern day computer coded and critter cloned Disney land?

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Dymaxion map showing the Late Pleistocene distribution of M. primigenius in blue (light blue was land at the time), inferred from fossil finds
Found frozen in Siberia in 2007, Yuka died from choking on mud 39,000 years ago copy
Woolly 1

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