The Woolly Mammoth
The woolly mammoth roamed the Earth thousands of years ago. Over the years, researchers have discovered the remains of many woolly mammoths, which have given them answers to what life was like back then. They also found drawings of woolly mammoths on cave walls, giving them an idea of how they fit in with our ancestors. For decades, we believed that we knew all there was to know about this creature; however, scientists discovered evidence that exposes an ancient lie about woolly mammoths.
Thousands Of Years Ago
Scientists believed that the woolly mammoths died out between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. Despite the fact that these animals have been extinct for years, their relatives are still roaming the Earth today. The Asian elephant is the closest in relation to the woolly mammoth.
All About the Woolly Mammoth
There are many things that we already know about this creature. First, researchers believe that the woolly mammoth lived in a widespread area of the planet. They lived in areas from northern Eurasia to North America. They had a similar measurement to modern-day elephants. The males grew to be 11-feet tall and 6.6-tons. The females were slightly smaller, growing to be between 8.5-feet to 9.5-feet tall. They can weigh up to 4.4-tons. The babies were very heavy, weighing up to 200-pounds at birth. The woolly mammoth was covered with fur, which kept them warm during the Ice Age. They had ears that were much shorter than the elephant’s, which made them less susceptible to heat loss and frostbite.
Like the elephant, the woolly mammoth was a social creature. They traveled with their family groups, which were often led by females. To create new large herds for safety purposes, they would often combine their families. This is something that elephants today do as well. It was easy for packs of woolly mammoths to find one another because their natural habitat was so open.
The woolly mammoths had trunks that were very helpful in foraging for food. The tip of the trunk had a finger-like adaptation, which made it possible for them to dig up the shortest blades of grass. The woolly mammoth could also pick up more substantial things to eat, such as flowers, buds, trees, and shrubs. Elephants today eat in a similar manner.
Small or sick woolly mammoths were susceptible to predator attacks from wolves or hyenas. Another predator they had to watch out for were humans. Humans used the bones of the woolly mammoth to build homes. Some Ice Age structures still exist today, and they show how many bones were necessary to build a suitable dwelling. The humans also used their ivory to create artwork and weapons. The tusk could be chiseled down and split into small pieces for use in the future. Humans also captured woolly mammoths as a source of food. These animals are enormous, and just one provided plenty of meat. Some researchers believe that the species died out because of overhunting.
Whether or not the woolly mammoth died out due to overhunting is unknown; however, the woolly rhinoceros, the saber-tooth cat, the giant polar bear, and the ground sloth all disappeared as well, leading other researchers to believe that something other than overhunting caused these creatures to become extinct.
Thousands Of Years Later
It was believed for many years that the woolly mammoth disappeared during the Quaternary extinction event. Modern research has suggested that they could have survived thousands of years after we thought them to have become extinct. Experts believe that climate change may have quarantined a small population to Wrangel Island, which is located in the Arctic Ocean. When the Ice Age ended, and the temperatures increased, the water levels on the whole planet began to rise. When this happened, the stranded woolly mammoths couldn’t leave the island for the mainland. It is believed that the rising waters saved them from death, allowing them to live in the middle of the Arctic for an additional 7,000 years.
Scientists uncovered this information during a study that was designed to measure the isotope makeup of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and strontium in the bones left behind after extinction. The study also proved that their diet changed toward the end of the extinction. They also discovered evidence that their environment had changed before they became extinct. Experts believe that the creatures isolated on the island began to develop mutations that changed the fat metabolism in their bodies. The woolly mammoths found in places other than the island were different than those trapped on the island. This new evidence just goes to show that we may never know all there is to know about animals that have become extinct.