mammuthus columbi

Mammuthus imperator

The Imperial Mammoth (Mammuthus imperator) was the largest known species of North American mammoth, reaching a height of 4.9 m (16 ft) at the shoulder. M. imperator ranged from Canada to New Mexico about 4.6 million - 17,000 years ago (Late Pleistocene). It was slightly larger than its more famous European cousins, the Woolly Mammoth, the Steppe mammoth and several others. Because it was much warmer in central and southwestern North America than in northern Eurasia, the Imperial Mammoth is not presumed to have a thick fur coat like its European relatives. It lived alongside the Jefferson's Mammoth (Mammuthus jeffersonii) and the Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). The latter is often confused with M. imperator, because of its similar size and fossil range. The primary way to distinguish the two mammoths is that M. imperator's tusks curve to the point of overlap, whereas M. columbi's tusks do not. M. imperator was originally described as a fossil species of Elephas by Joseph Leidy in 1858.

Excellent fossils of the Imperial Mammoth have been found in the La Brea Tar Pits, in Southern California.


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