Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin




Mammoths greatly resembled modern elephants with tusks and elongated trunk. This species had large heads with a dome on the top that sloped downward towards the backside of the body. The body was covered with red- reddish brown colored hair. The largest species of mammoth (Mammuthus imperator) was 13 feet. The Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) stood 12 feet tall and weighed about 10 tons. The smallest mammoth, the Channel Island dwarf mammoth (Mammuthus exilis) was only 4 feet tall.


This species could be found in grassland habitats in the northern hemisphere. Mammoths entered North America from Eurasia, early in the Pleistocene epoch by way of the Bering land bridge. Southern California was inhabited by several species of mammoths during the Pleistocene epoch; including the Columbian mammoth.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Mammoths were herbivores, consuming only vegetation. This species was a grazer, feeding on grasses, sedges, rushes and flowering plants. A small percentage of the mammoth diet included saltbush wood, fruits, cactus, sagebrush, water birch, and blue spruce. Mammoths had flat molar teeth used for grinding tough plant matter.


Mammoths are believed to have bred with similar characteristics as modern elephants. A female may have produced a maximum of 6 calves within a lifetime. Mammoth calves were about 2.5 feet tall and weighed 250 pounds.

Months and Times of Activity

This species is now extinct but mammoths were very active during the Pleistocene Epoch (1.6-10,000 years ago).

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • Mammoths could be “right-tusked” or “left-tusked” similar to left-and right-handed. Paleontologists know this because they have seen evidence of more wear on the inner tusk which was used the most.
  • Mammoths had wider heads, a more sloping back and curved tusks than mastodons. Mastodons had blunt, cone-shaped cusps for browsing on trees while mammoths had ridged molars for grazing on grasses. Mastodons were also smaller than most mammoths, only reaching about ten feet tall (closer to the size of modern elephants but with longer bodies and shorter legs).
  • Mammoths had a 60-80 year life span and within that life span a mammoth would have six sets of flat molar teeth. The first set is small when they are a baby, the second set
  • To read legends featuring this animal go to;
  • Children’s book featuring this animal: Will’s Mammoth by Rafe Martin


About Mammoths." About Mammoths." University of California Museum of Paleontology, n.d. Web. 01 May 2013.

Roll, Kathleen, and Dr. Tom Demere. "Fossil Mysteries Field Guide: Mammoth." Fossil Mysteries. San Diego Natural History Museum, n.d. Web. 01 May 2013.