Mammoth

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Life

A mammoth is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus. These proboscideans are members of Elephantidae, the family of elephants and mammoths, and close relatives of modern elephants. They were often equipped with long curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair. They lived from the Pliocene epoch from around 4.8 million to 4,500 years ago.[1][2] The word mammoth comes from the Russian мамонт mamont, probably in turn from the Vogul (Mansi) language, mang ont, meaning "earth horn".[3]

Contents

Size

Like their modern relative the elephant (Asian or African), mammoths were quite large; in English the noun "mammoth" has become an adjective meaning "large" or "massive". The largest known species, Songhua River mammoth (Mammuthus sungari) , reached heights of at least 5 metres (16 feet) at the shoulder. Mammoths would probably normally weigh in the region of 6 to 8 tons, but exceptionally large males may have exceeded 12 tons. However, most species of mammoth were only about as large as a modern Asian elephant. Fossils of species of dwarf mammoth have been found on the Californian Channel Islands (Mammuthus exilis) and the Mediterranean island of Sardinia (Mammuthus lamarmorae). There was also a race of dwarf woolly mammoths on Wrangel Island, north of Siberia, within the Arctic Circle.

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