All About Mammoths


Evolution of the Columbian mammoth

Mammoth lineage dates to early Pliocene in Africa between 4-3 million years ago. Mammoths soon traveled to Europe between 3-2.5 million years ago. The Southern mammothwas the first mammoth to reach North America approximately 1.5 million years ago. Columbian Mammoth (most likely the one being excavated) evolved from the southern mammoth about 1 million years ago.


Key Facts

  • Common Name: Columbian Mammoth

  • Scientific Name: Mammuthus columbi

  • Size: 13 feet at the shoulder

  • Weight: 10 tons

  • Diet: Vegetarian

  • Habitat: Savannah, grasslands, parklands and deserts


Columbian Mammoth

  • The Columbian mammoth evolved in the Americas

  • Have been found in Mexico, Central American as far south as Honduras and in North American as far north as Alaska

  • Lived until about 11,000-10,000 years ago

  • Columbian Mammoth was the largest of the late Pleistocene mammoths

  • High, broad skull, massive lower jaw and greatly curved tusks up to 13 feet in length

  • Most likely had a thin covering of hair as they lived in warmer climates than their relatives, the wooly mammoth

  • It was the biggest species and had the longest tusks


Quick Facts

  • Not all mammoths are woolly mammoths

  • Mammoths are taller than Mastodons

  • The Columbian mammoth is Washington’s state fossil

  • The largest recorded Columbian mammoth tusk was found in Texas and was 16 feet in length

  • Mammoth teeth so closely resemble Indian elephant teeth that scientists can estimate ages at death based on this

  • Scientists have estimated that the 18,000 pound mammoth would eat 770 pounds of food daily, spending approximately 16 hours doing so



Barton, Miles. Prehistoric America: A Journey through the Ice Age and beyond. New Haven: Yale UP, 2002.

Fagan, Brian M. The Complete Ice Age: How Climate Change Shaped the World. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2009.

Lange, Ian M. Ice Age Mammals of North America: A Guide to the Big, the Hairy, and the Bizarre. Missoula, MT: Mountain Pub., 2002.




Last Updated: June 13, 2012