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Columbian Mammoth

The Columbian Mammoth, Mammuthus columbi, lived in North America from what is now the northern United States, south to Costa Rica, including here in Arizona and Pinal County.

They lived during the Pleistocene, from about 1 and a half million years ago to about 11,500 years ago. After humans arrived in the new world, Columbian Mammoths were hunted, and their bones and tusks were used to make tools and other items.

Though closely related to the Woolly Mammoth, they did not live in the same areas. In western North America, Woolly Mammoths lived as far south as what is now Denver, Colorado. The two species did overlap in some areas. Fossils of both have been found at Hot Springs, South Dakota, but it’s not sure whether the two lived there at the same time.

Columbian Mammoths probably had much less hair than the Woolly Mammoth. No skins of the Columbian Mammoth have been found, so it is not known how much hair they had, but they lived in warmer climates without extensive ice or snow, and probably had hair similar to today’s elephants.

Through genetic testing, though, it has been found that Columbian Mammoths had reddish hair.

Columbian Mammoths stood about 13 feet at the shoulder, and weighed about 22000 pounds.

Their diet varied by where they lived. They were both grazers and browsers, and ate grass, leaves, flowers, and tree bark when they were available. They had to eat up to 400 pounds of food each day, and may have had to forage up to 20 hours a day in order to get that much food.

Sharing their habitat were animals such as Glyptodon, sabre-toothed cats, camels, horses, buffalos, and mastodons.

Most of the large mammals of North America died out about the same time as the Columbian Mammoth. We don’t really know why, but it was probably a combination of climate change and increasing pressure from human hunting.

Scientists have managed to sequence the Columbian Mammoth’s DNA, but there is little hope of ever being able to bring it back from extinction.