Part of Wooly Mammoth Tusk mammoths primigenius from the UK
This small part of a Wooly Mammoth Tusk is from the United Kingdom and dates back to the last ice age. Complete tusks are rare and can cost thousands of pounds, this section of tusk although small, represents an important part of our history. During the Pleistocene period wooly mammoths were widespread and remains of them sometimes turn up in gravel pits.
Mammoths were members of the elephantidae family. They are therefore related to elephants that are alive today. Various species existed, over the course of 5 million years, in Africa, Europe, Asia and also North America. The largest species were 4 metres high and weighed up to 8 tonnes. The northern species of mammoths were covered with long hair and they had long curved tusks. They also had the ability to grow new teeth when old ones became damaged and worn. The Pleistocene period over two and a half million years ago is associated the beginning of the last Ice Age. Temperatures then began to plummet, this led to ice and glaciers and covering large areas of planet earth. This lasted until approximately 11,700 years ago, in geological terms this is comparatively recent. Mammoths have been extinct for only a relatively short time, somewhere in the region of 4000 years.