Tag Archives: Mammoths

Mammoths of the Ice Age

Walk in the footsteps of the woolly mammoths at the National Museum of Scotland


Journey back in time hundreds of thousands of years and discover the animals of the ice age at the first UK showing of this interactive, family-friendly exhibition. Joust with mammoth tusks, find out what mammoth fur feels like and touch the replica teeth of a colossal mastodon. Then meet Lyuba, an exact replica of a 42,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth, and learn why early humans both hunted and honoured these majestic animals.

A bit far to go to physically, but the webpage is very nice and interactive, especially this game:



Columbian mammoth interbreeding with woolly mammoth

Complete Columbian mammoth mitogenome suggests interbreeding with woolly mammoths

Jacob Enk*, Alison Devault, Regis Debruyne, Christine E King, Todd Treangen, Dennis O’Rourke, Steven L Salzberg,Daniel Fisher, Ross MacPhee and Hendrik Poinar*

Late Pleistocene North America hosted at least two divergent and ecologically distinct species of mammoth: the periglacial woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and the subglacial Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). To date, mammoth genetic research has been entirely restricted to woolly mammoths, rendering their genetic evolution difficult to contextualize within broader Pleistocene paleoecology and biogeography. Here, we take an interspecific approach to clarifying mammoth phylogeny by targeting Columbian mammoth remains for mitogenomic sequencing. We sequenced the first complete mitochondrial genome of a classic Columbian mammoth, as well as the first complete mitochondrial genome of a North American woolly mammoth. Somewhat contrary to conventional paleontological models, which posit that the two species were highly divergent, the M. columbi mitogenome we obtained falls securely within a subclade of endemic North American M. primigenius. Though limited, our data suggest that the two species interbred at some point in their evolutionary histories. One potential explanation is that woolly mammoth haplotypes entered Columbian mammoth populations via introgression at subglacial ecotones, a scenario with compelling parallels in extant elephants and consistent with certain regional paleontological observations. This highlights the need for multi-genomic data to sufficiently characterize mammoth evolutionary history. Our results demonstrate that the use of next-generation sequencing technologies holds promise in obtaining such data, even from non-cave, non-permafrost Pleistocene depositional contexts.

Genome Biology 2011, 12:R51 doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-5-r51


Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius Blum.) and its environment in northern Europe during the last glaciation

Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius Blum.) and its environment in northern Europe during the last glaciation

P. Ukkonen, K. Aaris-Sørensen, L. Arppe, P.U. Clark, L. Daugnora, A.M. Lister, L. Lõugas, H. Seppä, R.S. Sommer, A.J. Stuart, P. Wojtal, I. Zupiņš

Quaternary Science Reviews
Volume 30, Issues 5-6, March 2011, Pages 693-712


Woolly mammoths were large, herbivorous, cold-adapted mammals of the Late Pleistocene. The diet and habitat requirements of the species set certain constraints on the palaeoenvironments it could occupy. The relationship between the mammoth’s shifting range and changing environments can be explored using independent data on ice sheet configuration, temperature, and vegetation, provided the locality and age of the fossil remains can be validated. Here we present a comprehensive record of occurrence of the woolly mammoth in the circum-Baltic region of northern Europe during the last glaciation, based on a compilation of radiocarbon-dated remains. The record shows that the mammoth was widespread in northern and north-eastern Europe during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3), at 50,000–30,000 calibrated years ago (50–30 ka). The presence of the species up to 65°N latitude supports the restriction of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet (SIS) during MIS 3. The widest distribution range round 30 ka was followed by a decline that led to the disappearance of mammoths from the area during the maximum extent of the SIS, from 22 to 18 ka. The woolly mammoth re-colonized the Baltic region and southern Scandinavia after the onset of the late-glacial deglaciation at 17 ka. The late-glacial record suggests a markedly fluctuating population changing its range in tune with the rapid environmental changes. The last appearance of mammoth in our study region was in Estonia during the Younger Dryas (Greenland Stadial 1; GS1) at about 12 ka. The two major periods of occurrence during MIS 3 and the late-glacial stadial suggest that mammoth had a wide tolerance of open to semi-open tundra and steppe-tundra habitats with intermediately cold climate, whereas the 22–18 ka disappearance suggests a major southward and/or eastward retreat in response to extremely cold, glacial conditions near the SIS margin. The final regional extinction correlates with the re-forestation during the rapid warming at the Younger Dryas–Holocene boundary.

Woolly mammoth antifreeze!

All over the internet today! – Laura

Substitutions in woolly mammoth hemoglobin confer biochemical properties adaptive for cold tolerance

We have genetically retrieved, resurrected and performed detailed structure-function analyses on authentic woolly mammoth hemoglobin to reveal for the first time both the evolutionary origins and the structural underpinnings of a key adaptive physiochemical trait in an extinct species. Hemoglobin binds and carries O2; however, its ability to offload O2 to respiring cells is hampered at low temperatures, as heme deoxygenation is inherently endothermic (that is, hemoglobin-O2 affinity increases as temperature decreases). We identify amino acid substitutions with large phenotypic effect on the chimeric b/d-globin subunit of mammoth hemoglobin that provide a unique solution to this problem and thereby minimize energetically costly heat loss. This biochemical specialization may have been involved in the exploitation of high-latitude environments by this African-derived elephantid lineage during the Pleistocene period. This powerful new approach to directly analyze the genetic and structural basis of physiological adaptations in an extinct species adds an important new dimension to the study of natural selection.