This week for Find it Friday I have found a, quite frankly, awe-inspiring object. It ties in very nicely with my love for Palaeontology and History. Pre-history even.
The Mammoth, various species included the Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi), the Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and in fact, 10 other species! They roamed the earth from the early Pliocene to the mid Holocene periods until succumbing to the warmer temperatures and the retreating iced landscapes. These creatures lived throughout the ice age and were ideally suited to it. They were not only covered in fur but also up to 5 inches of fat. This, in addition to their long, luscious locks, kept them nice and warm in the winter wonderland.
The Woolly Mammoth died out just over 4000 years ago, they were the last surviving Mammoths on earth. If we liken the Mammoth to a modern-day Elephant, it is likely, and indeed a completely accepted fact that they were Herbivores. Much like the Elephant they would use their trunks to grab vegetation, such as grasses, flowering plants, fruits and tree back, pull it lose and use their trunks to direct the food into their mouths. Vegetation can be tough, especially vegetation that is adapted to grow in such cold temperatures and so the Mammoth would need some pretty ‘mammoth’ teeth to grind up their food.
This is a Mammoth tooth. We currently have three in our collection however; this is the biggest, most intact and my favourite. It is a Mammoth molar. The Mammoth had only Incisors and Molars as there was no need for them to evolve Canines as they are adapted for tearing at meat, which is why they are sharp. The Mammoths Incisors are long and curved, as they are in fact their tusks.
Mammoths and humans existed at the same time and it is likely that the hunting of these beautiful animals contributed to their extinction. If needs be, like any cornered animal, I am sure that the Mammoth used his teeth and tusks in a deadly way. This tooth alone weighs so much that I can barely hold it after five minutes or so, so imagining the weight of a whole Mammoth taking in to consideration a few more teeth, a pair of tusks, the whole body, a whole body lining of fat… it is almost mind-blowing. It is suggested that a baby Mammoth could weigh up to 200 lbs, whereas an adult up to 2000 lbs. It seems hard to even imagine but holding this tooth in my hands, it doesn’t seem that difficult at all.