Woolly Mammoth Tusk

About the object

The oldest item in the Museum’s collection comes from a creature roaming these parts five million years ago – what did it see? where did it go?

Slough Museum’s Origins of Slough Pod is on the ground floor of The Curve. The Pod tells how the word ‘Slough’ comes from the Old English for ‘marsh’ and was used because the area the town was built on was mostly marshland. On display are the tusk and tooth of a woolly mammoth, discovered in a local pit in the 1960s. This now extinct prehistoric beast was about the size and shape of an elephant, disappearing from mainland at the end of the Palaeolithic period 10,000 years ago. The tusk & tooth are by far the oldest items in our collection.

Woolly mammoths are extinct relatives of today’s elephants. Woolly mammoths lived during the last ice age, and they may have died off when the weather became warmer and their food supply changed. Humans may also be partly responsible for their disappearance due to hunting. Although the word “mammoth” has come to mean “huge,” woolly mammoths were probably about the size of African elephants. Their ears were smaller than those of today’s elephants. This was probably an adaptation to the cold climate that kept their ears closer to their heads and kept them warmer. Their tusks were very long, about 15 feet (5 meters) and were used for fighting and digging in the deep snow. Mammoths were herbivores and ate mostly grass, but also ate other types of plants and flowers.

As part of our Make With the Museum series at The Curve Club, you can bring this favourite prehistoric mammal back to life with just a milk bottle & scrap paper.