Woolly mammoth

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The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) was one of the many land mammals that lived during the Pleistocene Epoch, which was about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago. According to Anthony Stuart [1] , a biology professor at the University of London, woolly mammoths became extinct in the last glacial–interglacial cycle. It is believed that they became extinct due to the planet warming, lack of food, overhunting by human hunters, or a combination of all three factors. Many research has been conducted to compare the history of living and extinct elephantids. The sequencing of DNA from several elephants and woolly mammoth fossils from around the world suggests that the Asian elephant is the closest living relative to the now extinct woolly mammoth [2]

Woolly mammoth image.jpeg


Extraction researchers who examined a verity of elephants and the bones, teeth, and ivory specimens from woolly mammoths found that both elephants and woolly mammoths belong to the mammals species. [3] . Mammoths adapted well to cold weather because of their dense undercoat, three foot long guard hairs, and small fur-lined ears. When mammoths died, their sediment were often buried and frozen in the vast deep freeze of the Siberian permafrost; therefore, their remains have survived into our time.[4]


Many researchers believe that the woolly mammoth should be classified as the mammoths in the subfamily of elephantine with two very close modern-day representatives, the African elephant and the Asian elephant. They also believe that these mammoths originated in Africa before the early Pliocene epoch, about five million years ago. [5] DNA analyses revealed that mammoths and Asian elephants are from a clade with an estimated genetic divergence time of 5.7 – 5.8 million years ago while African elephants diverged from an earlier common ancestor. Notably, because the woolly Mammoth is extinct, there are still many controversies due to the linked phylogenetic relationship of living elephants and the woolly mammoth. [6]


Many woolly mammoth fossils have been discovered frozen to near perfection and found around the world. Researchers believe that mammoths were able to live and adapt well to colder conditions, they were described as having dense undercoat and layers of hair all over their bodies ever fur in to their ear. Many mammoth remains have been found buried underground near rivers. This suggested to researchers that because of the change in the world’s climate that rivers and ice began to defrost and many of these mammoths died by drowning in unfrozen the rivers and lakes. [7]


Towards the end of the Pleistocene epoch, the number of woolly mammoths began to decrease. Woolly mammoths had survived previous glacial–interglacial cycles of the middle and late Pleistocene; however, the reason for their final vanishing is still unclear. Research on their extinction has highlighted that environmental changes, particularly to vegetation, played a major role in the extinction process, but many have argue that human “overkill” may also be a main factor in their extinction. [8]

See also

Other closely related articles in this wiki include:


  1. Stuart, A. J. (2005). The extinction of woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) in Europe. Quaternary International, 126–128, 171–177. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2004.04.021
  2. Clines, F. X. (2014, April 4). In South Carolina, Celebrating God’s Own Woolly Mammoth [Text]. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/04/in-south-carolina-celebrating-gods-own-wooly-mammoth/
  3. Barnes, I., Shapiro, B., Lister, A., Kuznetsova, T., Sher, A., Guthrie, D., & Thomas, M. G. (2007). Genetic Structure and Extinction of the Woolly Mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius. Current Biology, 17(12), 1072–1075. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.035
  4. Mueller, T. (05/09). Ice Baby — National Geographic Magazine [Text]. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/05/mammoths/mueller-text
  5. Rohland, N., Reich, D., Mallick, S., Meyer, M., Green, R. E., Georgiadis, N. J., … Hofreiter, M. (2010). Genomic DNA Sequences from Mastodon and Woolly Mammoth Reveal Deep Speciation of Forest and Savanna Elephants. PLoS Biol, 8(12), e1000564. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000564
  6. Mosbergen, D. (2015, October 5). Woolly Mammoth Found Under Michigan Soybean Field [Text]. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/woolly-mammoth-michigan_56120abde4b0af3706e1370c
  7. Noro, M., Masuda, R., Dubrovo, I. A., Yoshida, M. C., & Kato, M. (1998). Molecular Phylogenetic Inference of the Woolly Mammoth Mammuthus primigenius, Based on Complete Sequences of Mitochondrial Cytochrome b and 12S Ribosomal RNA Genes. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 46(3), 314–326. http://doi.org/10.1007/PL00006308
  8. Nogués-Bravo, D., Rodríguez, J., Hortal, J., Batra, P., & Araújo, M. B. (2008). Climate Change, Humans, and the Extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. PLoS Biol, 6(4), e79. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060079

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