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Free Mammoth Educational Booklet

 
 

Below is a free copy of the Woolly Mammoth booklet that is included on our page of Educational Kits. Make sure that you get a chance to check out all the other kits that we have available on the kits page as well. Click HERE for real Woolly Mammoth Merchandise.

 

 

 


WOOLLY MAMMOTH

LINK TO MAMMOTH PAGE.

WOOLLY 
MAMMOTH
EDUCATIONAL 
GUIDE
PROJECT NORTH SEA

 

 

INTRODUCTION 

Congratulations, you now own a piece of bone from one of the best known animals of the Ice Age, the Woolly Mammoth. The educational  kit which you have just purchased  contains a fossilized bone fragment  from an extinct Woolly Mammoth.   It also contains this booklet which is designed to help the beginner or avid collector understand the Woolly Mammoth and its environment.  The booklet will briefly explain the history of the latest  Ice Age, the characteristics of a Woolly Mammoth, and a synopsis of how the bone fragment was preserved.  This kit is designed  as an educational tool to give insight into this extinct creature. 

THE ICE AGE

An Ice Age is characterized by the progressive geographical  advancement of glacial ice sheets. Glaciers form when there is a net accumulation of snow and ice from one year to the next.  The snow becomes deeper and deeper as years of snowfalls accumulate.  When the snow reaches a certain depth, about 15 to 20 feet, it begins to turn into ice.  Glacial ice forms when the snow  is compressed from the extreme weight of the overlying snow. In order for glacial ice to form, the temperature needs to remain cold all year, cold enough to keep all the snow from melting during the summer months.  Temperatures during the Ice Age were only ten degrees cooler in the summer and about twenty degrees cooler during the winter than present day temperatures.  The earth evidently cycles in and out of Ice Ages with periods of warm weather in-between the cold.  The earth is obviously in such a warm period now.  Since multiple Ice Ages are historically documented for the earths’ past it is inevitable that in the future the earth will once again experience another Ice Age.
    

There are two types of glaciers that can form.  They are valley glaciers and ice caps.  Valley glaciers form in the mountain peaks and can flow downward and outward through the valleys.  Ice caps are large sheets of ice that can cover broad areas, as stated before, the size of whole continents.  Movement of the ice occurs when a sufficient amount of ice thickness builds up.  The weight of the overlying snow and ice forces the outer edges to move away from the center.  This movement usually occurs after a thickness of about forty-five feet is obtained.  Ice sheets of the Pleistocene Age were very large and covered whole continents.  The ice sheets or glaciers in some instances covered up to 45,000 square miles and were over a mile thick.  Because of the large amounts of water being locked up as ice in glaciers the flow of water returning to the oceans decreased resulting in a lowering of sea level.
 

Many people think that the Ice Age is characterized by the entire planet  being bitterly cold.  As mentioned above this is not the case, the earths’ climate was warm enough to sustain large elephant-like animals throughout the cool climates of North America, Europe, and Asia.  18,000 years ago the Earth was in the last peak of the latest glacial ice advancement as large amounts of land were covered by continental ice sheets.  The earths surface looked very different with ice sheets extending into central England and below the present Great Lakes in North America.  Ahead of these glaciers vegetation consisted of large areas of meadow-like grasses.  Sea levels were up to 300 feet lower than we see now, and because of this ocean levels dropped and land bridges appeared.  Although  a frigid climate was present in the immediate glacial areas this was not the standard earth-wide.  The climate near the glacial margins was cold but not too extreme, since plants did grow there.  This is  documented by the fact that there are large deposits of animal remains near these glacial margins indicating the existence of a large food supply (plants). 

 

THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH

Many different species of animals lived in areas adjacent to the glaciers.  Since these areas were considerably colder, the vegetation was also different.  Tundra like habitats existed with numerous types of grasses and low-lying shrubs.  Of all the animals that lived  during the Ice Age, the Woolly Mammoth is best known. 
 

Mammoths, like elephants, were very inefficient in the digestion of their food.  It is believed that they were only able to digest less than half the food that they ate, as result they would  have needed great quantities of food to stay alive.  Due to the large volume of food that these animals would need daily,  undoubtedly most of their day was spent searching for food and eating. 
 

From carcasses found frozen in Siberia, it was discovered that Mammoths ate a wide range of plant life.  This would have included anything from grasses, mosses, small plants to brush. 
 

Relatives of the Mammoths first appeared in Africa some 3.5 million years ago.  Descendants of these first Mammoths would have reached Europe by way of the Strait of  Gibraltar (at that time a land bridge between Europe and Africa), or through the Middle East.  These early ancestors of the Woolly Mammoth arrived in North America about  2.8 million years ago. During this period, the Ice Age was at a peak and sea levels were at their lowest.  During these periods of low sea level several land bridges formed.  Probably one of the most famous of these land bridges is known as the Bering Land Bridge connecting Siberia and North America.  This Bering Land Bridge was once again exposed about 35 thousand  years ago during the late Pleistocene Age.  The Woolly Mammoth could have migrated back and forth several times during the last Ice Age.  However, because of their adaptation to cold climate and dietary needs (tundra type vegetation) the Woolly Mammoth would have been restricted to the northern latitudes of the American continent.
 

Woolly Mammoths closely resembled the modern elephant in certain physical characteristics such as tusks and an elongated trunk.  Much is known about these animals because complete specimens are  occasionally found in the melting ice fields of Siberia.  The Mammoths are so well preserved that soft body tissue has been recovered, and even in some rare instances their last meal is still present in their stomachs. 
 

Adult Mammoths stood about 12 feet tall and weighed around 11,000 to 18,000 pounds.  The calves of the Mammoths were about 2.5 feet tall and weighed about 250 pounds. 

Mammoths had large heads with a dome on the top that sloped downward toward the backside of the animal.  As indicated by the name, Woolly, the entire body of the Mammoth was covered with hair.  The hair on the head, ears, and trunk was relatively short only a few inches in length.  Hair covering the sides of the stomach and on the legs was up to several feet in length.  Overall, the hair was red to reddish brown in color.  Mammoths most likely shed their winter coats in the summer to help regulate their body temperature.
 

The trunks of the Mammoths were used to pick up food and water without bending down on their knees.  Their trunks also had finger-like projections on the end which enabled them to be more agile when picking up objects. The ears on Mammoths were only about a foot in length as opposed to the larger ears of the modern elephant which are used to fan and cool body temperatures.  Since Mammoths rarely needed to cool off, smaller ears were more than  sufficient to aid in hearing, and because of their smaller size actually helped to conserve body heat.  The Mammoth also had a very thick layer of fat beneath their skin which acted as  insulation  against the cold. 
 

Mammoth teeth are used to determine the age of the animal.  Mammoths had several sets of teeth that they  lost through use and as they aged.  As a tooth was worn down by grinding action it was ejected from the jaw and replaced by a new tooth.  New teeth were successively larger as the animal grew.  The teeth were made up of a series of vertical enamel plates alternating with layers of dentine.  The age of a Mammoth can be determined by the size of the tooth and by the number of enamel plates in a single tooth. 
 

Mammoths had very large rootless tusks that grew out of the skull and continued growing throughout the Mammoth’s life.  In some excavated remains the tusks exceeded nine feet in length from the tip to the base of the skull.  Tusks were used to show dominance within  family groups and aid in the search for food under blankets of snow or ice. 
 
 

THE EXTINCTION OF THE MAMMOTH

The Mammoths began to die off about 15,000 years ago.  Their ultimate extinction may have been a result of global warming, loss of suitable food supplies, lower breeding numbers, or the hunting of early hominids.  Their extinction may have been a result of all, a few, or one of the previous stated factors. 
 

An Ice Age is actually a series of ice advances and retreats.  As the global climate warmed, the ice would melt.  Then, after a period of prolonged cold the glaciers would be renewed and advance.  This advance-retreat cycle would be repeated numerously, until the ice sheets would finally retreat for the last time,  marking the end of a particular Ice Age.  This last retreat of the ice would have been brought about by  a global wide warming trend of only about 10 degrees Fahrenheit within a relatively short period of time. This rapidly warming climate had a great effect on vegetation.  The plants that supported the Mammoths began changing from tundra vegetation to forests of evergreens.  The increase in temperature melted the ice resulting in increased sea levels.  The size of continental land masses were reduced as ocean levels rose from glacial melt water, flooding existing shore lines. 
 

The vegetation may have changed too rapidly for the Mammoths digestive system to adapt.   Those remaining Mammoths that were able to migrate or retreat with the shrinking glacial ice fields, would compete for the dwindling tundra vegetation.  The vegetation loss and smaller habitat may have forced them into extinction. 
 

Mammoths are thought to breed in a similar fashion as modern elephants.  A female Mammoth probably could have given birth to no more than six calves in her lifetime.  Because of this low reproduction rate, only a few females dying would drastically reduce the numbers within an individual herd.  Soon there would not be enough individuals within a given herd to maintain  a healthy population.  The herd would eventually die out. 

 

PRESERVATION 

 

The remains of the Mammoths became fossilized or preserved only after they were rapidly buried under mud or ice.  This rapid burial is the result of an animal falling through thin ice (on a lake, pond, or river) and becoming trapped or possibly by being buried in a mud flow. This quick burial is essential to prevent either scavengers or decay from destroying the once living tissue or bone material. Next the element of time would take over to further preserve the organic remains. The number of Mammoths fossilized represents only a small number of individuals that lived during that time.  Most would have died in areas not suitable for preservation.  Mammoths that lived in what is now present day Siberia are found remarkably preserved, almost completely intact, still frozen in ice remaining from the last Ice Age. These rather unique requirements are why only a small percentage of Mammoths have been fossilized or preserved.

 

YOUR WOOLLY MAMMOTH BONE

The Woolly Mammoth bone included in this kit was recovered from the bottom of the North Sea between England and the European continent.  The bones come from a depth of 65 to 165 feet below present day sea level where they were deposited during the last Ice Age. The Mammoth remains were deposited primarily in prehistoric lakes and rivers and are approximately 11,000 to 110,000 years old. These  Mammoth bones are recovered by fisherman as their nets scrape the bottom of the North Sea.  New bones are constantly being exposed as sea currents erode the clay mud layers on the bottom of the sea floor.  Many other Pleistocene Age animal bones are recovered from the sea bottom in this same manner.  The major amount of  remains or bones are found in an area just south of the marine feature known as the Brown Banks.  Once recovered these bones are treated to remove all traces of sea salt and then  emulsified in a special solution to permanently preserve them. 
 
 

 

THE ANCIENT NORTH SEA

As previously stated, during the glacial advances, large amounts of water were locked up in the growing ice sheets.  This resulted in a worldwide lowering of sea levels.  At this time, the bottom of the present day North Sea was exposed from 110,000 to 11,000 years ago.  The area would have been covered with grassy plains, rivers, and lakes that were home to large herds of animals.  Over the 100,000 years that this area was above sea level, Mammoths, along with other mammal bones, were deposited on these plains that would later become the North Sea.  This is why  Mammoth and other animal remains are found on the bottom of the North Sea.
 

At the end of the Pleistocene Age (10,000 years ago) worldwide temperatures rose and the glaciers melted causing sea level to rise.  The rising sea levels filled the North Sea, forcing the animals to retreat northward following the retreating ice sheet.

 

 

MODERN MAMMOTHS?

Scientists are now studying the possibility of  bringing this animal back into existence through the science of cloning.  Cloning is a process that takes DNA from an individual and then implants this genetic code into a living cell.  When this egg cell matures and the animal gives birth, there should be an exact copy of the animal you started with.  This new procedure may be attempted on tissue remains recovered from an extinct Siberian Mammoth.
 

You now own a unique remnant of the past.  It is a specimen from one of the  largest mammals that lived during the Ice Age.  The bone sample has not altered significantly from the time when it was part of a living, breathing animal that existed over 11,000 years ago.  It is a unique specimen brought up from the depths of the North Sea by fishermen.  Their find has opened a window to a period of animal life that is unique in the Earths’ historical past. 
 
 



SUGGESTED READINGS
 
 

Lister, A., and Bahn, P., 1994, Mammoths: 
     New York, Macmillan.

Mol, D., Agenbroad, L.D., and Mead, J.I.,
     1993, Mammoths: Hot Springs, The
      Mammoth Site of Hot Springs South
      Dakota Inc.

Stone, R., 1999, Cloning The Mammoth:
     Discover, v. 20 n. 4,  pp. 56-63.

Augusta, J., and Burian, Z., 1962, A Book 
     of Mammoths: London, Paul Hamlyn.

Kurten, B., and Anderson, E., 1980, 
     Pleistocene Mammoths of North
     America: New York, Columbia
     University Press.

 

 

 

MAMMOTH EDUCATION KIT.

The Mammoth - Project North Sea.
This boxed kit contains one authentic partial Mammoth bone dredged from the bottom of the North Sea.  Along with the bone is an informative booklet that explains in detail about the Mammoth, how it became fossilized and why it was found at the bottom of the North Sea.

SALE Price:  $10.00 each

There are six partial bone types that you may choose from:

Rib, Leg, Skull, Vertebrae, Pelvis (hip), Scapula (shoulder bone)