Woolly Mammoths

Which prehistoric animal was still living when the Great Pyramids were being built?

And the answer: woolly mammoths.

When construction of the Great Pyramids began about 4,500 years ago, a small population of woolly mammoths still existed on a small island off the coast of Siberia. Numbering between 500 and 1,000, this small group of mammoths continued to live until about 1650 B.C.

Woolly mammoths were the last in a long line of mammoth species, rising in prominence as far back as 2 million years ago. Their appearance and size are among some of the most well-studied of the prehistoric species, as skeletons and whole frozen carcasses of the beasts have been found in Siberia and Alaska. Their depictions appear in many prehistoric cave paintings, and have long been studied in Asia and Europe.

Frozen woolly mammoths were excavated by Europeans as early as 1728. Up until that point, scientists and archaeologists knew the mammoth was an ancestor of the elephant, but had little conceptual knowledge of its actual physiology. Their fur, tusks, bones, and even some internal organs were preserved in the ice. The earliest excavated mammoth even still had grass between his teeth!

Finding soft tissue of these extinct creatures has led scientists to believe that the species could be recreated by scientific means. A 2015 genome project supported these findings, but ultimately lacked feasibility.

What do you think? Should these giant creatures return to the Earth? Read more about the woolly genetic project here.


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