The Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) is one of three species known in North America. It was common in Illinois 40,000 to 10,000 years ago. Discovery sites are known throughout the state. Not indigenous to America, mammoths crossed the Bering Straits less than 500,000 years ago. They were contemporaneous with humans for thousands of years. Mammoths were large and heavily furred. They stood up to 12 feet at the shoulder and had a large rounded dome and a sloping back. Mainly, they were grass and shrub eaters with distinctive multilayered teeth. Mammoths belong to the elephant family. Perhaps, they are closest to Indian elephants. The present reconstructions are based on mammoth skeletons, French cave drawings, and the numerous interpretations of other authors.
Updated 10/2/2009 CAB