One of the largest mammals known to man is the elephant. What most people don’t know is that the elephant is a descendant from the mammoth and mastodon. After the dinosaurs died off, the mammoth roamed Asia, Europe as well as North America. They were known to be alive up until about 4,000 years ago. Unlike the dinosaurs, the mammoth lived amongst the humans. We know that the mammoth lived because of the drawings that were found in caves of the humans hunting the mammoth or simply drawings of the mammoths themselves.
Mammoths were large; they stood up to about 11 feet and weighed as much as 12,000 pounds. 6 million years ago the first elephants were found in Africa. After a while they split up into 3 groups, one group stayed in Africa and they are now known as the African elephant, the second group moved onto Asia where they are now known as the Asian elephant. The third group were the mammoths and moved onto Europe. At first the mammoths only had a bit of hair and looked a lot like their African relatives. When they first arrived in Europe, the temperatures were gradually getting colder and by the time the ice came the sparse-haired mammoths had turned into thick coated-mammoths. The mammoth had huge tusks, unlike current day elephants; the mammoth’s tusks were long and curved inwards.
The mastodon on the other hand is much like the present day elephant. They weren’t as large as today’s elephants but they had some of the same features, different from the mammoth. The mastodon’s body was about 8 feet in height and weighed about 10,000 pounds. Their tusks were about the same size as present day elephants, they were also straighter unlike the mammoth with its large curved tusks. The mastodon had short stocky legs and was covered in long thick hair just like the mammoth. The remains and fossils of the mastodon have been found all over North America and now can be found in museums all over the continent.
-Heather : Co-op student, March 23, 2011