Science Saturdays: Mammoth Facts

Science Saturdays

I was but a hopeful 11 year-old lad when I first watched the animated movie Ice AgeAs an eleven year old, there was only one voice I recognized. It was the voice of the loveable Raymond. I gravitated toward the Manny character and when the movie was over, and the lights came on, I went back home to research the woolly mammoth. I also attribute this movie, and 5o Shades of Ray, with my current affection for these guys.

So I’m sure you can imagine my pleasure when I came across this TEDxDeExtinction Video covering the possibility of BRINGING THEM BACK! In a scene almost straight out of Jurassic Park, scientists are on the verge of deciphering the woolly mammoth genome by taking ancient fossils and comparing them with the DNA strands of the Asian and African elephants of today. This discovery led to me this blog post, uncovering 10 cool facts about the woolly mammoth that my 11 year-old self never knew. The interesting points, in my opinion, are displayed below.

4. The woolly mammoth was not the only “woolly” type of animal. The woolly rhinoceros, also known as the Coelodonta, co-existed with the woolly mammoth, walking the Earth during the Pleistocene epoch

I mean, REALLY!? Where was the woolly rhinoceros in Ice Age? Couldn’t they have gotten Robert Barone to voice him?

6. Today, the hunt is on for woolly mammoth tusks in the Arctic Siberia. Due to global warming, the melting permafrost has begun revealing these hidden ivory treasures for a group of local tusk-hunters to find and sell. A tusk can range from 10-13 foot in length and a top-grade mammoth tusk is worth around $400 per pound. Mammoth ivory, unlike elephant ivory, is legal.

Ugh, humans.

10. The final resting place of woolly mammoths was Wrangel Island in the Arctic. Although, most of the woolly mammoth population died out by 10,000 years ago, a small population of 500-1000 woolly mammoths lived on Wrangel Island until 1650 BC. That’s only about 4,000 years ago! For context, Egyptian pharoahs were midway through their empire and it was about 1000 years after the Giza pyramids were built.

They were around when pyramids were around?! They were here while people were sweating it out in deserts? This shatters my whole “strictly an ice age animal” preconceptions.

Ladies and gentlemen, the woolly mammoth: continuing to astound humans 4000 years later!

Post Script:  Because I love you, here’s four minutes of Scrat and his antics.

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