Skip to main content
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

Extinct Columbian (Mammuthus columbi) and Channel Island (M. exilis) Mammoths Fact Sheet: Diseases & Pathology

Extinct Columbian (Mammuthus columbi) and Channel Island (M. exilis) Mammoths

How Do We Know This?

Abnormalities in fossils bones may show evidence of arthritis, cancer, nutritional stress, fractures and more.

Diseases & Pathology

  • Pathologies on mammoth bones, especially vertebrae and limb bones are common.
  • One mammoth studied was estimated to be nearly 60 years in age, with arthritic changes in many bones of his body.(Gillette & Madsen 1993)
    • Severe arthritis of most vertebrae
    • Bone loss of many rib facets
    • Bony growths restricting front limb movement
  • A woolly mammoth from western Siberia showed degenerative changes in much of its skeleton (Leshchinskiy 2003).
  • Woolly mammoth bones from Poland have several pathologies (Krzeminska 2008)
    • Healed fractures
    • Malformations of vertebrae, wrist bones, teeth
    • Furrows on the cement surface of teeth
    • Depressions in bone from abscesses

Page Citations

McDonald (1981)
Morrow (2006)
Fisher (2001)
Jefferson and Goldin (1989)

SDZG Library Links