Mammoths in GURPS
Mammoths are closely related to the Asian elephant. They arose during the early Pliocene and lived until the end of the Pleistocene, with a few relic populations hanging on until c. 5000 years before present. They could be found in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.
Mammoths were characterized by their long, curving tusks. The northern species had thick, wooly hair, the more southerly species had bare skin like modern elephants.
There are several mammoth species:
- Possibly the most famous, the wooly mammoth Mammuthus primigenius lived until the end of the last ice age. It was found throughout Europe, Siberia, Alaska, and much of Canada and what would be the eastern United States. A relic population lived on Wrangel Island off Siberia until about 1700 BC, another population lasted until about 3750 BC on Saint Paul Island off Alaska where they initially became dwarfs before dying out. Entire wooly mammoth specimens have been recovered frozen in permafrost so we know quite a bit about its anatomy and appearance. It was covered in long, shaggy hair over a thick wooly undercoat. The hair would have been dark brown, black, red, or blonde. They had thick layers of fat including a fatty hump over the shoulders and secreted a greasy fluid into their hair for additional insulation. Their tusks were extremely long and curved, perhaps to act as snowplows.
- The Columbian mammoth Mammuthus columbi ranged from the present United States down into Central America during the late Pleistocene. It lived in savannas and grasslands. They were among the largest of the Mammoths.
- The steppe mammoth Mammuthus trogontherii lived in norther Eurasia during the mid-Pleistocene. It reached similar sizes to the Columbian mammoth.
- The southern mammoth Mammuthus meridionalis lived in Europe and central Asia during the early to middle Pleistocene. It was about as large as the Columbian mammoth.
- The north African mammoth Mammuthus africanavus lived in north Africa during the late Pliocene. It was smaller than the later giant mammoths.
- The African mammoth Mammuthus subplanifrons was found in southern Africa during the early Pliocene.
- The pygmy mammoth Mammuthus exilis was a dwarf species from the Channel Islands with an estimated mass of about 750 kg. It is thought to be descended from the Columbian mammoth, and died out shortly after the end of the last ice age.
- Two species of dwarf mammoth are known from Sardinia Mammuthus lamarmorae and Crete Mammuthus creticus.
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