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Mammoth Hair

Mammoth Hair

Radiocarbon-dated to 19,551 years old! Mammoth Hair is part of the First Edition collection. We are happy to offer it once again as a stand-alone specimen

Above: Front of Specimen Card

"Various legends exist about frozen mammoths. It has been said that the scientists who excavated the Beresovka mammoth, discovered in the year 1900, enjoyed a banquet on mammoth steak. What really appears to have happened is that one of them made a heroic attempt to take a bite out of this meat but was unable to keep it down, in spite of a generous use of spices." ~ Björn Kurtén in "How to Deep Freeze a Mammoth"

In the popular imagination, the "Ice Age" happened in the distant past, but in fact, the ice age is still ongoing today. We just live in a warm pocket known as an interglacial period, also known as the Holocene. Our ice age began 2.6 million years ago at the start of the Pleistocene epoch. Repeated periods of glacial incursions during the Pleistocene created the permanent ice sheets that cover Antarctica, Greenland, and parts of the Arctic. The changing environment also allowed for the development of large animals known as megafauna adapted to the climate, including the woolly mammoth.

A full-grown woolly mammoth, just one species of the genus Mammuthus, stood 10-12 feet at the shoulder with shaggy hair. The woolly mammoth's hair provided a substantial advantage in the struggle to stay warm.

Above: Mammoth Hair from the First Edition of the Mini Museum

This specimen is a tuft of woolly mammoth hair. The specimen comes from a well-preserved wooly mammoth discovered near the Indigkra River in Siberia, Russia, radiocarbon-dated to 19,551 years old. Mammoth Hair originally appeared in the First Edition of the Mini Museum. We're pleased to offer it once again as a single specimen. 

As pictured above, the specimen comes in an acrylic jar, which housed inside a glass-topped Riker display box measuring 4x3x1 (inches). A small information card accompanies the specimen and serves as the certificate of authenticity.


Please Note: Every tuft is completely unique. Coloring and texture vary widely. Images on this page convey typical specimens. The hair has not been treated in any way. It is meant for display and study only.

More about the Woolly Mammoth

Roughly the mass of a modern African elephant, the woolly mammoth evolved some 400,000 years ago in Siberia from the steppe mammoth widespread on that continent, and ultimately spread westward into Europe and eastward into North America via the Beringian land bridge that once connected modern-day Russia and Alaska. This event may have been the second mammoth invasion of the New World, as the steppe mammoth forayed to North America about 1.5 million years ago and evolved there into the endemic (and enormous) Columbian mammoth.

In Pleistocene North America, woolly mammoths primarily roamed the cold, treeless tundra-grasslands immediately below the continental ice sheets—the American reach of the mammoth steppe—while Columbian mammoths occupied a more southerly, temperate range encompassing most of today's Lower 48 States and which extended deep into Mexico.

They shared this territory with fellow Pleistocene grazers, subsisting mainly on grasses and sedges along with willows, alders, and other stunted trees that grew sparsely in the high-latitude steppe lands, far more diverse biomass than the modern Arctic tundra.

After disappearing from continental ranges roughly 10,000 years ago, small, isolated populations of woolly mammoths survived on Alaska's St. Paul Island until about 5,600 years ago and on Russia's Wrangel Island until perhaps 4,000 years ago. All of these pockets eventually died out due to the lack of genetic diversity that comes from metropolitan interactions with larger populations.

Further Reading

Kurtén, Björn. How to deep-freeze a mammoth. Columbia University Press, 1986.

Bocherens, Hervé, et al. "Isotopic evidence for diet and subsistence pattern of the Saint-Césaire I Neanderthal: review and use of a multi-source mixing model." Journal of human evolution 49.1 (2005): 71-87.

Sherkow, Jacob S., and Henry T. Greely. "What if extinction is not forever?." Science 340.6128 (2013): 32-33.

Cooper, Alan, et al. "Abrupt warming events drove Late Pleistocene Holarctic megafaunal turnover." Science (2015): aac4315.

Tikhonov, Alexei, Larry Agenbroad, and Sergey Vartanyan. "Comparative analysis of the mammoth populations on Wrangel Island and the Channel Islands." Advances in Mammoth Research 9 (2003): 415-420.

Barrow, Mark V. Nature's Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology. University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Above: Back of Specimen Card

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