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A frozen baby mammoth

The woolly mammoth was one of the last in a line of mammoth species. Its appearance and behaviour are among the best studied of any prehistoric animal due to the discovery of frozen carcasses (example pictured) in Siberia and Alaska, as well as skeletons, teeth, stomach contents, dung, and depiction from life in prehistoric cave paintings. The animal was only identified as an extinct species of elephant by Georges Cuvier in 1796. Its closest extant relative is the Asian elephant. The woolly mammoth was well adapted to the cold environment during the last ice age, and had long, curved tusks. Its habitat was the mammoth steppe, which stretched across northern Eurasia and North America. The woolly mammoth coexisted with early humans, who used its bones and tusks for making art, tools, and dwellings, and the species was also hunted for food. It disappeared from its mainland range at the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 years ago, most likely through a combination of climate change, consequent disappearance of its habitat, and hunting by humans. Recreation through cloning has been proposed, but this is as yet infeasible; the ethics of this have also been questioned. (Full article...)

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