PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mammoth tusk. View of the giant left tusk of a woolly mammoth Mammuthus primigenius. The tusks of mammoths curled around in an upturn, each tusk growing in an opposite spiral (unlike elephants). This giant specimen is 3 metres long, weighing 73 kilograms, and almost certainly belonged to a male mammoth which carried larger tusks. Wear patterns or breaks in the tusk may indicate how the animal cleared snow to reach vegetation food beneath, or broke through ice to reach unfrozen water to drink. Prehistoric humans used these tusks to build protective shelters, and the ivory may have been sculpted for use.
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