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Skull and tusks of a woolly mammoth, Mammuthus sp.

Skull and tusks of a woolly mammoth, Mammuthus sp.

E447/0019

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Credit

PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Mammoth head. Frontal view of the skull and tusks of a woolly mammoth Mammuthus primigenius. In the foreground are giant upcurved tusks which curl around, each growing in an opposite spiral (unlike elephants). Tusks reached 3 metres in length in male mammoths, weighing up to 73 kilograms, but were smaller in females. Wear patterns or breaks in the tusks may indicate how the animal cleared snow to reach vegetation food beneath, or broke through ice to reach unfrozen water to drink. The skull and skeleton are seen in the background. These mammoth bones were discovered in 1992 in Yakutia, Russia. They are 15,000 years old.

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