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Model of a woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius

Model of a woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius

E447/0027

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Credit

KENNETH W. FINK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY KENNETH W. FINK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Woolly mammoth. Model of a woolly mammoth Mammuthus primigenius. Woolly mammoths had small ears, a thick hairy coat and a fat hump, which were adaptations to life on the cold steppe of Siberia and much of Europe up until about 10,000 years ago. The mammoth's giant tusks curled 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. They were probably used by the animal to clear snow to reach vegetation beneath, or to break through ice to reach water to drink. Woolly mammoths died out as Europe warmed up and forests spread across the cold steppe.

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