Mammoth Facts



  • Woolly mammoths adapted to ice age conditions by developing a thick coat of dark hair, and using their enormous curved tusks to sweep snow off the grasses they ate.
  • The woolly rhinoceros was up to 5 m long, and roamed the tundras of northern Europe and Asia. Like the mammoth, it featured in the cave drawings of hunters.
  • Several ice age mammals became giant-sized to help them combat the cold, including aurochs – the giant ancestors of modern cattle.
  • Many mammoths are so well preserved in the Siberian permafrost that their flesh is still edible, and their last meals remain in their stomachs.
  • On the tundra at the edge of the ice sheets, some mammals migrated south in winter; others, like the huge European cave bear, hibernated in their lairs. 484
  • Smilodon, a large saber-toothed cat, inhabited ice age North America, dying out along with many of the large animals it preyed on.
  • Many mammal species died out between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, as the last ice age ended. But some survived, including musk-oxen, horses, hyenas and saiga antelopes.
  • The ice age bison were similar to modern bison, but had sweeping 1-m long horns on either side of their heads.
  • The giant short-faced bear, which inhabited North America until the end of the last ice age, was twice the size of the Kodiak bear, had long legs and weighed up to 1 ton.
  • The woolly mammoth had small ears to prevent heat-loss, and beneath its hairy skin was a thick layer of heat-preserving fat.
  • Saber-toothed Smilodon ranged from Canada to Argentina. It used its huge upper canine teeth to slice through the tough hides of large prey animals and bite out big chunks of flesh.
  • Cave bears used the same caves for many generations. One cave in Austria contained the bones of up to 50,000 individual hears.