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You Can Build a Mammoth

Cartoon of Children Building a Mammoth

Here's a neat project that you can do in your backyard or garage. Or maybe you can talk your teacher into doing it as a class project so you can use your school's gym or a similar, large, dry workspace. You can do the detective work for this activity even if you can't build a mammoth. This activity will teach you a lot about the rewards and perils of Ice Age hunters stalking a six-ton mammoth! Let's get started.

Supplies:  Boxes: You'll need enough boxes to create a 10-foot tall mammoth model. Photocopy Paper Boxes: We estimate that the average 9" x 11" x 18" photocopy paper box holds about 1 cubic foot of volume. That means you'll need about 200 photocopy paper boxes or other boxes of a similar size. Or you can use a combination of photocopy paper and five refrigerator packing boxes. Refrigerator boxes measure about 30" x 30" x 84" That's 44 cubic feet of volume per box! Duct tape or plastic packing tape. Rolls of paper towels. Plastic trash bags filled with crumpled newspaper. Painted strips of newspaper or construction paper. Glue or staples. Be inventive! Find recycled materials in your school or neighborhood to use for the mammoth model.

Directions: Use the illustration above to guide your work. Tape the boxes together with the duct tape or plastic packing tape. Tape rolls of paper towels together for the mammoth's tusks. A ten-foot tall mammoth had tusks that were about 8 feet long. Use plastic trash bags filled with crumpled newspaper for the mammoth's trunk! A ten-foot tall mammoth had a trunk that was about 8 feet long! Create a shaggy mammoth hide by using painted strips of newspaper or construction paper glued or stapled to the boxes.


Mammoth Hunting Detective Work:

Use your math detective skills to answer these questions (the solutions can be found below).

1. The distance of a mammoth from shoulder to shoulder was about eight feet! The animal's length was about ten feet and its height was ten feet. How many cubic feet of approximate mammoth volume is that? 
2. A mammoth femur or upper leg bone was four feet long and a tibia or lower leg bone was about three feet long, and toes about one foot long. (Don't forget that mammoths, like today's elephants, walk on their tippy toes!) How long were a mammoth's legs? 
3. How many pounds of meat do you calculate one ten-foot tall, six ton mammoth would supply? Figure that about 40% of the weight of the animal was usable meat.


Use your archaeological investigation skills to answer these questions:

4. How many hunters do you think were needed to hunt and kill a full-grown mammoth?
5. Archaeologists figure Paleo-Indians lived in bands of 15-20 people. How many weeks worth of food could one full-grown, six-ton Mammoth kill supply?
6. Considering the size of our 10-foot tall model mammoth, do you think it would be easy to capture and kill the animal for food and other uses?


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Last updated: 10-23-2009