MOORPARK SOUTHERN MAMMOTH MOVED TO SANTA BARBARA
How big is your foot compared to a mammoth?
(carpal and metacarpal bones)
Did you know...you can see the bones of a real Southern Mammoth at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History? The average size of an human foot is about 8.7" long x3.4" wide. The foot bones in the above right-hand picture is from the Moorpark Southern Mammoth which measures about 21" long x 13" wide. Imagine the footprints this animal would have left!
The Moorpark Southern Mammoth – one of the two most complete Southern Mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis) skeletons in the California – has moved to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
The Museum plans to incorporate this 750,000 year-old paleontological treasure into a redesigned and expanded geology and paleontology exhibit hall. The Moorpark Southern Mammoth will be the perfect companion for display with the Museum’s other, much younger and smaller, paleontological pachyderm, the Pygmy Mammoth of the northern Channel Islands.
Before the Moorpark Southern Mammoth can go on display, the bones need to go through a meticulous preparation and conservation process. This scrupulous process usually happens behind the scenes, but this summer the Museum will create an interactive “prep” lab where visitors can see experts prepare and conserve the bones. To learn more about the Moorpark Southern Mammoth, visit the Museum to see some of its bones currently on display in the Geology and Paleontology Hall before the prep process begins.
About the Moorpark Southern Mammoth
The Moorpark Mammoth is a Southern Mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis), the first species of mammoth to enter North America across the Bering land bridge from eastern Asia as early as 1.8 million years ago. When it was alive, this behemoth would have stood 12-feet tall with 8-foot long tusks.
In April 2005, the Moorpark Southern Mammoth was discovered and excavated during the construction of the Meridian Hills housing development north of downtown Moorpark. In addition to finding this rare skeleton, an invaluable scientific treasure trove of bones of other animals from the early Pleistocene period was also excavated.
Since the discovery of the Moorpark Southern Mammoth is an extraordinary find, the City of Moorpark wanted to find a place to keep the fossils safe, but also accessible to the community. In July 2007, the Museum and the City of Moorpark entered into an agreement which transferred ownership of this fossil assemblage to the Museum. In October 2007, Mammoth Moving & Storage moved the Moorpark Southern Mammoth to its new home at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
Some Mammoth Facts
Mammoths are extinct mammals from the family Elephatidae (the same family as the modern elephants). Mammoths were herbivores (plant eaters), primarily grazing on grass and flowering plants. They lived throughout the world about 2 million years to 9,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch, millions of years after the dinosaurs went extinct. It is uncertain why mammoths became extinct; perhaps a change in the climate, overhunting by humans or maybe disease caused their demise.
The largest species of mammoths (Mammuthus imperator) reached 13 feet tall and the smallest (Mammuthus exilis) grew to four to eight feet tall. Mammuthus exilis are commonly known as the Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth. The most complete skeleton to date of a Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth was excavated on Santa Rosa Island in August 1994 by a team of National Park Service researchers led by Dr. Larry Agenbroad, a Research Associate at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. A full-size cast of the Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth is currently on display at the Museum in the Geology/Paleontology Hall.
Mammoths are mammals and classified as follows:
- Kingdom Animalia
- Phylum Chordata
- Class Mammalia
- Subclass Eutheria
- Order Proboscidae
- Suborder Elephantoidea
- Family Elephantidae
- Genus Mammuthus
- Mammuthus africanavus: African mammoth
- Mammuthus columbi: Columbian mammoth, about 13 feet tall (which now includes the Mammuthus jeffersonii: Jefferson mammoth)
- Mammuthus imperator: Imperial mammoth, about 16 feet tall
- Mammuthus trogontherii: Steppe mammoth, about 15 feet tall
- Mammuthus meridionalis: Southern mammoth, about 12–14 feet tall
- Mammuthus subplanifrons: South African mammoth
- Mammuthus primigenius: Woolly mammoth, about 9 feet tall
- Mammuthus lamarmorae: Sardinian Dwarf Mammoth
- Mammuthus exilis: Pygmy mammoth, about 4–8 feet tall
DID YOU KNOW…The Pygmy mammoth is exclusively found on California’s Channel Islands.
The Southern Mammoth resembled a huge Asian Elephant with larger tusks. It may have been the ancestor of later species such as the Columbian and Imperial Mammoths. Primarily a grazer feeding on low-lying plants, the Southern Mammoth also occasionally browsed eating some tree leaves and shrubs. The Moorpark Southern Mammoth is an important specimen because it represents one of only two relatively complete skeletons of this species, the fifth specimen to have been collected in California, and one of the 15 known specimens from North America.
DID YOU KNOW… Present day elephants: Spend 16 to 18 hours a day either feeding or moving toward a source of food or water.
- Consume between 130 to 660 pounds of food each day.
- Drink between 16 to 40 gallons of water per day.
- Produce between 310 to 400 pounds of dung per day.
Mammoths are believed to have lifestyles similar to present day elephants, BUT were much larger. Imagine how much more food and water mammoths consumed, and how much more dung they produced.
MAMMOTHS IN NORTH AMERICA DURING THE PLEISTOCENE ERA
(1.8M–700,000 years ago)
- Southern Mammoth
(700,000–130,000 years ago)
- Imperial Mammoth
(130,000–10,000 years ago)
- Columbian mammoth
- Woolly mammoth
- Pygmy Mammoth
Moorpark" Mammoth Website:
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Geology & Paleontology Hall:
The Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth: