Mammoths were one of the most famous inhabitants of the last ice age. Fossils usually provide static snapshots of animal life, but researchers have recently used fossils to track male mammoths from birth to death. By analyzing the chemicals in a 17100 year old long tooth, scientists found that the mammoth walked long enough to circle the earth, possibly in search of food and mates.
“Ivory is like a timeline, adding layers of chemicals from the environment every year,” said Matthew J. wooller, a paleoecologist at Fairbanks University in Alaska He and his colleagues cut a 5.5-foot-long ivory in half and measured the chemical composition of each layer to reproduce the mammoth’s journey. In 28 years, the animal walked nearly 80000 kilometers across what is now Alaska. The team plans to apply the same technology to more Ivory fossils in the future. “We have hundreds,” wooller said.