The mammoth’s outer rough guard hairs were up to a meter long, and the hairs were four to six times thicker than a human hair (0,25-0,50 mm in diameter). The isolated under-wool closest to the body was fine and the middle-layer consisted of approximately 10 cm long hairs. The mammoth was in other words really well dressed in order to live in the ice age landscape. As an extra protection against the cold weather, the mammoth had a thick layer of fat under the skin. To reduce heat loss the ears were small and the tail was shorter than on present-day elephants. As something special, the haemoglobin in the mammoth’s blood could transport oxygen at a lower temperature than other mammals.

In France 30,000 years old cave paintings show the mammoth, where you can see the characteristic small ears, the long guard hairs and not least the hump over the shoulder. In Siberia, mammoth carcasses have been hidden and frozen solid since the ice age but the rising temperatures in present-day have de-frosted the frozen soil, and these mammoth carcasses have been coming out again. This gives the researchers the opportunity to examine the fur, layer of fat, and organs.

Researchers can amongst others things determine the age of a mammoth from the layers in its tusks. The tusks grow throughout the mammoths life and every year another layer grows onto the tooth. Thick layers indicate good periods with a lot of food and thin layers show the opposite. The growth layer also reveals if the female have been pregnant and raised a young.

Read more about the woolly mammoth

Classification – Family

The woolly mammoth was one og many different types of mammoths, which lived and evolved throughout millions of years. The mammoths’ ancestors emerged in a warm climate in Africa. From here they spread out at around 3,5 million years ago, and they conquered the Asian and European continent. Different mammoth variations evolved throughout the periods. The further north they came, the bigger and more woolly they got. The big tusks was used to sweep the snow away to expose the plants, so that they could be eaten.

The nearest present-day relative is the Asian elephant, which lives from India in the west to Borneo in the east. The Asian elephant weigh up to five tons and it is known by its ears being significantly smaller than the African elephants. Only the males have big tusks. The tusks on the females are very small and are hardly visible.


Scientific name: Mammuthus primigenius.

Length: Male 4,0-4,5 m including tusks. Females were a bit smaller.

Height: Male approximately 3,5 m (Shoulder-height). Female 2,9-3,4 m (Shoulder-height).

Weight: Male approximately 6 tons. Female approximately 4 tons.

Food source: Plants, especially grass and the herbs on the Mammoth steppe

Distribution: Found in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Status: Extinct. The last mammoths survived in a “dwarf variant” on Wrangel Island in the North-eastern Siberia. They disappeared 3,700 years ago. The mammoths are known in Denmark from more than 140 findings – mainly part of molars and tusks.

Wake up the mammoths?