When it comes to woolly mammoths, you’re probably imagining the frozen tundra and Ice Age climates, and thinking that they made their way to the United States might not be your first thought. However, the preserved remains of mammoths have been found in parts of North America and the United States. In this article, you will learn about their existence in the U.S. as well as other facts centered on woolly mammoths.
The woolly mammoth has appeared in prehistoric cave paintings in France, Spain and Britain. The creatures were also quite popular in tribal legends associated with the North Americans and Siberians. The animals were present in the continent of North America when man first inhabited the land.
Mammoths in the United States
If you want to catch sight of fragments of the woolly mammoth, you can view the bone and teeth of the creatures in the Midwestern United States. However, a trip to the Illinois State Museum will bring you closer to a sample of mammoth hair from Siberia.
The Teeth of the Woolly Mammoth
Mammoth teeth are rather interesting and distinct, as they are made up of a set of compressed enamel plates held together with what is called cementum. The cemented plates create a very strong, tall tooth that is resistant to wear and tear. The tooth first breaks through the gum cavity, which the mammoth will use to grind the coarse texture of their diet ”“ vegetation and grass. The tooth develops a flat top with low enamel ridges where the plates suffered wear as a result of this action. The mammoths relied greatly on their teeth to consume their diet. The grass was very difficult to eat because it was comprised of small pieces of silica (a glass-like substance) in its leaves. The silica bits would act in the same manner as sandpaper grit ”“ wearing away anything that was less resistant to the material.
Mammoths in North America
The first mammoths entered North America around 1.5 to 1.8 million years ago. The creatures migrated from Eurasia ”“ crossing the Bering Strait during a time period where the sea level was lower than it is today. The first mammoths were part of a species known as M. meridionalis. Descendents that came from this species of mammoth includes the Columbian and Jefferson’s mammoths. The woolly mammoths from Eurasia used the Bering Straight to reach North America at a much later time. Scientists believe it may have been sometime less than 500,000 years ago. Unfortunately, about 11,000 years ago ”“ all of the species of mammoths were extinct in North America.