STL Science Center

STL Science Center

08 October 2011

The Real Question

I'm the only mammoth you puny humans need worry about.
The real question with mammoths is how can I find a picture of a mammoth that is not of a Woolly Mammoth? There are an abundance of images that arise from a search with mammoth in it. However, very few if any by the time you get exhausted looking at pictures of Woolly Mammoths, are of any kind of mammoth other than a Woolly Mammoth. In order to find, therefore, other kinds of mammoth to share, talk about, discuss, and otherwise visually dissect, the search has to be very specific. This ends up eliminating a lot of art prints, so I hope that not everyone today is expecting fantastic oil paintings of mammoths to adorn this page because, in fairness to the other species, I have to try my hardest to represent a lot of museum displays today in order to show all the mammoths.

Hi, my name is Lyuba
©Mauricio Antón
The direct evidence of Woolly Mammoth is all over the globe because Woolly Mammoths were all over the globe. Their bones have been found all over the globe from the extreme north as far south as Spain. Also called the "tundra mammoth" Woolly Mammoths did not venture into climates too warm for them on account of their thick shaggy coats, and this has led to some amazing discoveries. Woolly Mammoths of all ages had their tragedies like any other animal alive can and in their extremely cold habitat sometimes freezing and mummification were the end results of their lives. Famous babies like Lyuba and Dima have been pulled from glacial ice and permafrost and adults have been found in much the same fashion and, sometimes, in pieces as well. Large amounts of carcasses, about 68 in total have been pulled from Siberian permafrost and glacial ice not to mention the immense amounts of mammoth ivory that have been recovered in the past; there is a river in Siberia where more than 8,000 mammoth bones have been washed up together. Most stories about the flesh of mammoths being edible are false, of course, the animals having decayed significantly, typically, prior to their mummification.

The next mammoth that there are illustrations or restorations of in museums is the Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). The Columbian Mammoth is like a bald version of the Wooly Mammoth in many ways. Its remains have been found throughout the complex of the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, California as well as southern countries of North America such as Nicaragua and Honduras. One of the more elephantine of the mammoths, the Columbian Mammoth seems to have eaten quite a bit of fruit in addition to grasses and conifers. The stomach contents of these animals have been examined from the La Brea specimens. The largest concetration of Columbian Mammoth skeletons actually is found in Waco, Texas at what is conveniently called The Waco Mammoth Site. Over 22 individual mammoths have been found at the site since 1978 along with the remains of a Giant Camel and Smilodon. The site is also recognized by the National Park Service as the only site in America that is recognized as the complete burial of a nursery of Pleistocene mammals.

Mammuthus armeniacus, the enormous member of the family
Another mammoth that has become somewhat prominent is the Steppe Mammoth (Mammuthus armeniacus) which was found in the steppe region of Eurasia. It is thought to have evolved from the Southern Mammoth and has been found in English cliffs near West Runton in Norfolk as well as the most complete specimen having been found in, of all places, Siberia again. In 2008 France also claimed the remains of a Steppe Mammoth. The Steppe Mammoth is thought to be the largest of the Mammuthus genus and, extrapolating from the female found in Siberia under the assumption that the males, like in elephants, would be a good deal larger and bulkier than the females, is also thought to be larger than Deinotherium; Deinotherium is a genus of Proboscidea which possesses the general build of all members of the family but differentiates in being enormous as well as in having tusks that grow out of the extreme from of the mandible and pointing almost straight down with some backward curve to them earning the animal the name the "Hoe Tusker." Should this prove true, the Steppe Mammoth would then be the largest land mammal to have ever lived aside from Indricotherium and perhaps (some debate) Mammuthus sungari.

Notice my coneheaded appearance.
A lesser known mammoth that also has been found and restored is the Southern Mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis) of Southern Europe and Central Asia.

©Heinrich Harder
And the final mammoth that has been restored or illustrated is the Imperial Mammoth (Mammuthus imperator) of North America.

Other mammoths include the Songhua River Mammoth Mammuthus sungari, the Sardinian Dwarf Mammoth Mammuthus lamarmorae, the South African Mammoth Mammuthus subplanifrons, the Pygmy Mammoth Mammuthus exilis, and the African Mammoth Mammuthus africanavus.

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