Date: Pleistocene Epoch (40,000-10,000 years old)
Description: This fossilized femur bone, found in northwest Iowa, comes from a wooly mammoth. Mammoths lived all over North America, Europe, and Asia before the Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Close relatives of the mastodon and modern elephants, mammoths stood 16 feet tall at the shoulder and could weigh over 12 tons. They ate mostly low-lying vegetation and their teeth were large and flat to grind up this vegetation. Wooly mammoths get their name from their huge size as well as the thick undercoat of hair that protected them in an Ice Age environment. They mostly became extinct after the Ice Age, but scientists have been able to study them extensively due to the discovery of intact frozen carcasses. Mammoths also coexisted with early humans, who used their tusks and bones to make tools, weapons, and art.
Donor: Sioux City Academy of Science and Letters.