Woolly mammoths lived in Eurasia and Northern America from approximately 200,000 years ago until around 10,000 years ago, when most populations went extinct.
The mammoths were approximately the same size as modern African elephants, being up to 3.4 meters tall at the shoulder and weighing up to six tons. They were well-adapted to the conditions of the last ice age, having a double layer of fur as well as short ears and a short tail to minimize frostbite and heat loss. Their tusks were asymmetric, distinctly curved, and far longer than those of modern elephants.
Mammoths are one of the best-known prehistoric animals because of the large amount of preserved tissue and cave paintings depicting them.
In addition to their meat, woolly mammoths were hunted for their skin, bones and tusks, which were used as construction material. Their ivory was also used to create art objects and weapons.
The exact reasons for the woolly mammoth’s extinction remain unknown, but are likely linked to changing climate conditions and over-hunting by humans.
Whatever the reason, mammoths gradually went extinct in Eurasia and North America, but the last two populations managed to survive thousands of years longer. One lived on St. Paul Island Alaska, and survived until around 4400 BC, while the other was on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean (west of the Chukchi Sea, which is itself located just north of the Bering Strait), and only went extinct around 2000 BC.
This means there were still living woolly mammoths until 3,500 years after the first human cities were built in Mesopotamia, 2,700 years after the Carnac megaliths were erected, 1,500 years after the invention of writing, and 600 years after the first Pyramids of Giza were built.
Even after mammoths went extinct, humans have continued to use mammoth ivory as a raw material. In fact, it is theorized that some 10 million mammoths remain buried under the Siberian ice.