Friday, November 04, 2005

Baby Mammoth's Dental Record

Picture courtesy of Daniel Fisher.

From an article by Rossella Lorenzi at Discovery News:

Raising a mammoth wasn't an easy task and required huge quantities of mother's milk, according to a study of the nursing habits of a young woolly mammoth that died thousands of years ago.

Analysis of the young mammoth's relatively intact tusk revealed that the calf nursed from its mother for four or more years, apparently depending on the calorie-rich milk to survive in harsh, arctic conditions.

"Tusks are an exceptional source of data on the life histories of mammoths and other proboscideans. Like the tusks of modern elephants, mammoth tusks were ever-growing, adding a thin layer of dentin (ivory) each day of the animal's life," said co-author Adam Rountrey of the University of Michigan's Museum of Paleontology.

Carried out by researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota and the Wrangel Island State Preserve in Siberia, the study was presented at the recent meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Mesa, Arizona.