Mammoth Tusk

Over the last two million years – the Ice Age – Europe gradually took on its present form. Ice sheets covered Britain, advancing and retreating many times, reached as far south as the Thames Valley.

During the Pliocene epoch (around 5 million years ago) and the Holocene (4,500 years ago), one of the mammals who thrived during these cold periods was the Mammoth. Their thick hairy coats enabled them to live in the harsh conditions that existed during the Ice Age.

Now extinct, the Mammoth could reach heights in the region of 4m and weigh up to 8 tonnes. Both male and females bore tusks, which could grow at a rate of about 2.5 to 15.2 cm (1 to 6 in) per year.

This Mammoth tusk on display was found locally on the beach at Swalecliffe in the 1930s and is about 70,000 years old.

It is believed Mammoths disappeared from Europe around 10,000 years ago when their numbers began to decline. Mammoths are now extinct, but amazingly preserved examples are sometimes found in the Siberian permafrost.



Period Prehistoric, Approx. 68,000 BC
Location Swalecliffe, Kent
Material Mammoth
Find me in Prehistoric to Roman Canterbury Rooms, Canterbury Heritage Museum

DID YOU KNOW? The use of preserved genetic material to re-create living things has long been discussed theoretically but has only recently become the subject of formal effort. As of 2015, there are three major ongoing projects who are attempting genetically to bring the Mammoth back from extinction!