Mammoths and elephants are two of the biggest creatures ever to roam the earth. These majestic beasts have captured the imagination of humans for centuries, inspiring awe and wonder with their sheer size and power. Have you ever wondered how they compare to each other? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of mammoths and elephants, exploring their similarities and differences.
Regarding size, mammoths were generally more prominent than modern-day elephants. Most mammoths were about as large as modern elephants, but some species were much larger. For example, the North American imperial mammoth (M. imperator) had a shoulder height of 4 m (13 ft).
Woolly mammoths, one of the most well-known species of mammoths, stood about 3 – 3.7 metres (10 – 12 ft) tall and weighed between 5,500 – 7,300 kg (6 – 8 tons).
Elephants, on the other hand, are generally smaller than mammoths. African elephants are the largest elephant species and can reach a shoulder height of up to 4 metres (13 feet) and a weight of up to 12,000 kg (26,000 pounds). Asian elephants are slightly smaller, with a shoulder height of up to 3.5 metres (11 feet) and a weight of up to 5,500 kg (12,000 pounds).
The size of mammoths and elephants can vary depending on the species and the individual. For example, male elephants can weigh up to 14,000 pounds, while female elephants can weigh as little as 5,000 pounds. Similarly, some mammoths were much larger than others, with some species being comparable in size to modern-day elephants.
If you’re trying to tell the difference between a mammoth and an elephant, one of the most obvious ways is to look at their tusks. Both species had tusks, but there are some differences to remember.
Mammoths had more prominent tusks than elephants. Mammoth tusks curve and twist upwards, while elephant tusks grow in a straight line or tilt towards the ground. The longest-ever elephant tusks were 3.5 m in length.
Both mammoths and elephants use their tusks for various purposes, including digging for food, fighting, and foraging. Both of their tusks are made of ivory, a valuable commodity for centuries. Unfortunately, this has led to illegal poaching and a decline in elephant populations.
The ivory from mammoth tusks is also a valuable commodity, and some companies are now using it as a sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. The ivory from mammoth tusks is legal to trade because the species is extinct, and the tusks are often found in the permafrost of Siberia.
Fur vs Skin
One of the most noticeable differences is their fur and skin when comparing mammoths and elephants. Woolly mammoths had thick coats of fur to help them survive in the cold climates they lived in. In contrast, elephants have mostly hairless skin, with only a few bristly hairs on their tails and around their ears.
The fur of mammoths was an adaptation to their harsh environments. Their long, shaggy coats helped to keep them warm and protected them from the elements. Elephants have adapted to warmer climates and have developed a thin layer of skin that helps them regulate their body temperature.
Another difference between mammoths and elephants is the colour of their skin. Mammoths had dark skin, which helped to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays in their Arctic habitats. In contrast, elephants have light-coloured skin, which reflects the sun’s heat and helps to keep them cool in their tropical environments.
While mammoths had fur, they still had some exposed skin, such as on their trunks and ears. This skin was thick and wrinkled, helping to protect it from the cold and wind. Elephants, on the other hand, have sensitive skin that is susceptible to sunburn and insect bites. They use their trunks to spray themselves with water and mud to protect their skin from the sun and keep themselves cool.
Extinct vs Alive
If you’re comparing mammoths and elephants, one of the most apparent differences is that mammoths are extinct, while elephants are still alive today. The last mammoths are thought to have died out around 4,000 years ago, while elephants thrive in Africa and Asia.
There were several different species of mammoths, including the woolly mammoth, Columbian mammoth, and steppe mammoth. All these species belonged to the Mammutidae family, including mastodons. Mastodons were similar to mammoths in many ways but had different teeth and lived in different habitats. Another extinct elephant-like animal was the deinotheres, which had downward-curving tusks and may have used them to strip bark from trees.
Mammoths lived in various habitats, including the mammoth steppe, a vast grassland stretching across northern Eurasia and North America during the last ice age. Some mammoths also lived on islands, evolving into smaller, dwarf species. It’s thought that mammoths migrated from Asia to North America via the Bering Land Bridge, which connected the two continents during periods of low sea level.
Today, there are two species of elephants: African elephants and Asian elephants. African elephants are the largest land animals on earth, while Asian elephants are slightly smaller. Both species are highly intelligent and social and have complex family structures. Elephants play an essential role in their ecosystems, helping to shape their environments and spread seeds.
Mammoths and elephants have different habitats due to their location and environmental adaptations. Elephants are found in Africa and Asia, while mammoths roamed North America, Europe, and Siberia during the last ice age.
Elephants live in various habitats, such as grasslands, forests, and plains. They adapt to different environments and can survive in hot and cold climates. African elephants prefer savannas and forests, while Asian elephants prefer tropical and subtropical forests.
On the other hand, Mammoths lived in cold and dry environments such as the grasslands and plains of the northern hemisphere. They adapted to living in the ice age and had thick, woolly coats to protect them from the harsh climate.
Their habitats were affected by climate change. Mammoths adapted to the cold climate, and their habitats started to shrink as the ice age ended. As a result, their population declined, and they eventually went extinct. Conversely, elephants are facing habitat loss due to human activities such as deforestation and poaching.