Woolly Mammoths Still Existed When the Great Pyramids Were Being Built
Woolly mammoths, such as Manny from the Ice Age animated movie franchise, flourished during the Pleistocene epoch. The now extinct pachyderms were roughly the size of modern African elephants, with males reaching shoulder heights greater than 11 feet, and weighing in at around 6 tons. Females reached nearly 10 feet at the shoulder, weighed around 4 tons, and calved newborns that weighed around 200 pounds at birth.
The furry pachyderms are most commonly associated with the ice age. Their shaggy coats, comprised of outer layers of long guard hairs atop a shorter undercoat, made them well adapted to the harsh winter environments of that frozen epoch. Other evolutionary adaptations included short ears and tail, to minimize heat loss and frostbite. That enabled them to thrive in the Mammoth Steppe – the earth’s most extensive biome during the ice age, extending from Canada and across Eurasia to Spain, and from the Arctic Circle to China.
They are one of the better-known extinct species to science. Paleontologists have not only discovered complete woolly mammoth fossils but also recovered entire frozen carcasses in Alaska and Siberia. Some of those frozen finds were remarkably well preserved, despite the passage of thousands of years. That enabled scientists to not only recover woolly mammoth fur, skin, flesh, and stomach contents, but also woolly mammoth DNA. Today, scientists are busily reconstructing woolly mammoth DNA, and have already made great strides in that effort as of early 2018, with an eye towards de-extincting the species. It is quite likely that, within the lifetime of many or perhaps most people alive today, woolly mammoths will once again walk the earth.
But when, actually, did woolly mammoths go extinct? The last ice age ended about twelve thousand years ago, circa 9700 BC. It is widely assumed that woolly mammoths must have gone extinct sometime around then, if not sooner. However, contrary to popular perceptions, woolly mammoths did not vanish that far back. While no man ever saw a live dinosaur, mankind and its hominid ancestors did share the planet with woolly mammoths for hundreds of thousands of years. Woolly mammoths, in fact, were still around while the Ancient Egyptians were busy building the Great Pyramids.
Most woolly mammoths were hunted by humans into extinction and disappeared from the continental mainland of Eurasia and North America between 14,000 and 10,000 years ago. The last mainland population, in the Kyttyk Peninsula in Siberia, vanished about 9650 years ago. However, small populations survived in offshore islands, such as Saint Paul Island in Alaska, where woolly mammoths existed until 5600 years ago. The last known population survived in Wrangel Island, in the Arctic Ocean, until 4000 years ago, or roughly 2000 BC. That was well into the era of human civilization and recorded human history, and centuries after the Great Pyramids of Giza, whose construction concluded around 2560 BC, had been built.