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Text: Prehistoric Animals.
Columbian Mammoth of Babine Lake
Photo: Columbian Mammoth, Mammuthus cf. M. columbi.
Columbian mammoth, Mammuthus cf. M. columbi
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Where are they found? North America

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In 1971, workers excavating in an open-pit copper mine near Babine Lake, British Columbia, discovered the partially articulated skeleton of a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). This individual is often called the Babine Lake Mammoth.

Radiocarbon dating indicates that the Babine Lake Mammoth died about 34 000 years ago. The unlucky animal sank into sticky pond deposits and died there.

The Columbian mammoth was the largest of North American mammoths—up to 4 m (13 ft.) in height and weighing an estimated 10 t (11 tn.). Its coat was probably thinner than that of its woolly mammoth cousin. The tusks, however, were every bit as imposing—around 4 m (13 ft.) long.

Its diet consisted mainly of grasses and sedges with some woody plants; a study of plant remains found with the bones indicates that it lived in a shrub-tundra environment.

The Columbian mammoth was confined to North America and may have evolved from early populations of the Eurasian steppe mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii) that entered Eastern Beringia (unglaciated parts of Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories) about 1.5 million years ago. It ranged mainly throughout the southern half of North America as far south as Mexico and Costa Rica. Probably the species died out about 13 000 years ago.

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