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Image: Asiertxo

H.sapiens, Songhua River Mammoth, African Elephant

The largest elephant that ever lived was huge, taller than your two-story Mayfair flat and almost as tall as the average telephone pole. Evolved from smaller Siberian mammoths, the Songhua River Mammoth roamed Northern China and Inner Mongolia during the Middle Pleistocene about 280,000 years ago. It survived into the Late Pleistocene but died out well before the end of the last ice age.


Image: Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Science

Songhua River Mammoth Skull

Fossils of the Songhua River Mammoth are rare. The largest mammals in any group are never common because several factors set limits on population numbers. An elephant of this size would have a long maturation period, and breed slowly with only one or two offspring born at one time. Daily caloric requirements – pounds of grass and other fodder – would be huge and require that these huge beasts eat continuously 24/7. Brunch with second and third portions at no extra charge would have been a requirement every day of the week.

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Image: Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Science

Songhua River Mammoth Skeleton

There is an original Songhua River Mammoth in the Inner Mongolia Museum, which was constructed from the remains of two individuals. A skeleton of a large male in a Japanese museum is 17 ft tall and 30 ft long from tip of the trunk to tip of the tail. Estimated weight is 10 tonnes and the metrics of this huge male represent maximum size for the Songhua River Mammoth. In China, there is a Songhua Mammoth skeleton on exhibit at the Daging Museum that is a 13-14 year old male from the late Upper Pleistocene with a body length of 6m and height of 3.5m. It was found in 2003 and is nearly identical to that in a museum in Shenzhen.

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