Monday, November 04, 2013

Mammoth—riddle of the Ice Age

by Jonathan Sarfati

News recently flashed around the world of what many scientists hoped to be a nearly whole mammoth, found in permafrost in the Taymyr Peninsula in northern Siberia.1,2 Once again fascinated, people asked: ‘What exactly are mammoths?’, ‘Where did they come from?’, ‘When did they live?’, ‘Why did they become extinct?’ and ‘Can they be cloned?’.

Woolly mammoth

What is a mammoth?

Evidently a variety of elephant, mammoths belong to the mammalian order Proboscidea.3 Mammoths (genus Mammuthus) had the usual elephantine features of a trunk and tusks. Mammoths had a large shoulder hump and a sloping back; small ears and tail; very complex teeth; a small trunk with a distinctive tip with two finger-like projections; huge, spirally curved tusks up to 3.5 m (11.5 feet) long; and spiral locks of dark hair covering a silky underfur.4,5 Some were huge — the Colombian mammoth measured up to 4+ meters (14 feet) high at the shoulders — about the same size as the largest living elephants. But the woolly mammoth was smaller, and there were dwarf mammoths only two meters (six feet) tall.5,6

Where did they come from?

The answer to such questions about the past comes from the Word of one who was there — the Creator. He revealed in Genesis that He created land animals and people on Day Six of Creation Week (Genesis 1:24–27). This passage teaches that God made distinct kinds of animals, which would breed ‘after their kind’.

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References and notes

1.  Stone, R., Siberian mammoth find raises hopes, questions, Science 286(5441):876–877, 1999.
2.  Hecht, J., Dead and Gone: Ice-damaged DNA leaves little chance of a mammoth return, New Scientist164(2212):11, 1999.
3.  For more information about elephants, see Weston, P., Heard of Elephants?, Creation 21(4):28–32, 1999.
4.  Mammoth Story, 16 November, 1999; <>.
5.  Haynes, G., Mammoths, Mastodonts and Elephants: Biology, behavior and the fossil record, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., Ch. 2, 1991.
6.  Of mastodons, mammoths and other giants of the Pleistocene, 5 January, 2000; <>.

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