For hundreds of years, mammoth bones found in Europe were thought to be the bones of giants. Around 300 years ago they were identified as belonging to elephants which caused more confusion. Eventually, when it was accepted that animals that differed from those seen today had once existed, the anatomist Georges Cuvier correctly proposed that the bones belonged to an extinct form of elephant. The earliest mammoths recorded date from over four million years ago, and the larger species died out a mere 10,000 years ago. The reasons for their demise remain unclear but may have involved climate change and the arrival of human hunters.
Scientific name: Mammuthus
Teeth help explain the evolutionary journey mammoths made from the African tropics to the arctic.
Adrian Lister from London's Natural History Museum analyses mammoth teeth to understand the evolutionary journey they made from the African tropics to the remote arctic.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.