1. Woolly mammoths were big but not huge! They were about the size of a modern African elephant. But the very biggest of the mammoths (probably Steppe mammoths) were 13 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed more than eight tons. The relatively puny woolly mammoth, by contrast, was only about nine feet tall and weighed a mere five tons.
2. The coat of a woolly mammoth was made up of very long hairs with an undercoat of shorter hairs. This layering would help to keep them warm.
3. The ears of a woolly mammoth were shorter than a modern elephant’s ears. Like their thick fur, their shortened ears kept them warm in the very cold weather.
4. Mammoths used their curved tusks to dig up the ground. They also used them to rub bark from the trees and to fight.
5. We can tell the age of a woolly mammoth from the rings of its tusk, like looking at the rings of a tree. There is a line for each year and the thickness or thinness of the rings tells us how well the mammoth was during that time. A thicker ring would suggest a good year with plenty of food.
6. The woolly mammoth was not the only woolly animal. The woolly rhinoceros was around at the same time, and they died out around the same time too. We are not sure why they died. Humans might have hunted them all, or perhaps they did not like it when the Ice Age ended.
7. We believe the large lumps on a mammoth’s back were extra stores of fat to help it survive winters when food was not easily found. Mammoths ate grass and grazed like cows do today.
8. Mammoths Were Around When King Tut Was. Woolly mammoths and early human beings shared the planet for thousands of years. Most mammoths went extinct about 10,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene; however, some stuck around for thousands of years in isolated island locations; the very last woolly mammoths lived on Wrangel Island off the coast of Russia. There were living mammoths on the planet just 3,600 years ago, at the same time that King Tut ruled ancient Egypt.