Mammoth tusks were slightly akin to tree rings, insomuch that in new research, it's shown to have recorded information about the ice age animal's history.

BBC report said this new study sheds light on how extremely mobile the Ice Age animal was. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Dr. Matthew Wooler, it is not clear-cut if the woolly mammoth or Mammuthus primigenius was a seasonal migrator, although "it covered some serious ground.

Essentially, woolly mammoths, as described in this said report, were the hairy cousins of the present time's elephants, journeying northern latitudes in a prehistoric cold period called the Pleistocene.

Wooler, the study's co-author added, the animal visited various parts of Alaska at some point in its lifetime, which he finds quite amazing, considering how huge the area is.

In addition, also serving as pins on a map were some chemical elements integrated into tusks which broadly showed where the animal traveled.

ALSO READ: Woolly Mammoth Could Get Back From 4000 Years of Extinction: But, Is It Necessary?

Mammoth Tusk Reveals How Extremely Mobile This Ice Age Animal Was; Study Shows Distance It Travelled, Equivalent to Circling the Earth 2X
(Photo: Zde on Wikimedia Commons)
Fragment of a mammoth tusk

Chemical Elements and Tusk Combined

By incorporating the said chemical elements and tusks, the study investigators traced the travel history of a male mammoth that lived in Alaska 17,000 years ago. Essentially, its remnants were discovered close to the northern state's Brook Range of mountains.

The Director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North and co-author of the study, Dr. Pat Druckenmiller, said from the time these animals were born until the moment they died, mammoths have got a diary, "and it's written in their tusks."

As indicated in the same report published on, the study's co-author also said, "Mother Nature does not typically offer up such convenient life-long records" of the life of an individual.

Bit by bit, mammoths added new layers to their tusks in their lifetime. When the ivory was divided lengthwise, such growth bands looked similar to loaded ice cream cones, providing a sequential record of existence.

In a similar report, WIRED said DNA from the remnants showed the mammoth was male, although to get more information, the study investigators divided the tusk in half to further examine the deposited minerals' rings.

Using a laser, they were able to take small specimens of each layer, from the material at the tip that logged the earliest days of the mammoth to the base part that recorded the last.

The Mammoth's Journey

In their study, Lifetime mobility of an Arctic woolly mammoth, published in the journal Science, the researchers pieced together the journey of the mammoth by investigating various types or isotopes of the oxygen and chemical elements strontium the 1.5-meter long tusk contains. They were matched with maps that predicted variations of isotopes across Alaska.

The study investigators also discovered that the mammoth had covered the Alaskan landscape of 70,000 kilometers during its 28 years on Earth. As indicated in this report, to compare, the Earth's circumference is 40,000 kilometers.

This new research offers hints to these outstanding creatures' extinction. Furthermore, for animals that ranged so extensively, the forests' encroachment into the preferred grassland habitat of the mammoths towards the end of the last Ice Age would have put pressure on herds.

Furthermore, this new study by an international team limited how far they could travel for food and put them at higher risk of predation.

Related information about wooly mammoths is shown on Facts Verse's YouTube video below:

ALSO READ: The Last Days of The Woolly Mammoth: Genetic Meltdown Influenced Their Demise

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