Published on February 13th, 2014 | by Mary Gerush


Secrets Of Woolly Mammoth Poop Revealed

Woolly Mammoth StampOn the fifteenth of May
in the jungle of Nool
in the heat of the day
in the cool of the pool

He was splashing enjoying the jungle’s great joys.
And Horton, the elephant heard a small noise.

– Dr. Seuss

Perhaps it was the wind rustling the tiny flowers on the pre-Ice Age arctic prairies. Turns out there was more than just grass growing there: A recent study of arctic soil indicates that another class of plants grew in the grasslands — “forbs” — herbaceous, flowering plants with tiny blossoms that looked like buttercups or dandelions. And apparently, our vegan friends, the woolly mammoths, depended on protein from those plants to survive — or at least that’s what their poop has revealed.

Most researchers believed that woolly mammoths fed on grass 50,000 years ago in the arctic tundra. But Danish evolutionary biologist Eske Willerslev and his collaborators wanted to learn more. They sampled frozen soil from Alaska and Siberia alongside DNA in mammoth feces and found that flowering plants — not grass — were the dominant component of the woolly mammoth’s diet.

Unfortunately, they may have also been their undoing. When the flowers disappeared 25,000 years ago, so did the woolly mammoths.

But wait. Not so fast.

According to a recent NPR article, another researcher, University of Michigan’s Daniel Fisher, suggests perhaps it could have happened the other way around: When the mammoths disappeared at the hands of hunters, so did a great source of fertilizer for all those little flowers. And they quickly followed suit.

Stories like this and the undeniable evidence of plants and animals evolving for survival demonstrate the inextricable links within the elements of our ecosystem. What happens in our environment stays in our environment — for better or worse. Food for thought.

Image Credit: Woolly Mammoth Stamp via Shutterstock

Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

Hi all! I'm Mary Gerush - a recovering corporate worker bee turned good-farm-real-food advocate and writer who wants to help people understand what they're eating. I tend a tiny urban farm in Dallas, TX, and hope to scale up one day soon. Omnivore through-and-through, there's not much I love to eat more than a butter-basted grass fed steak fresh from a searing hot cast iron skillet. Follow me on , , and !

One Response to Secrets Of Woolly Mammoth Poop Revealed

  1. AEM says:

    I cannot even imagine how many “forbs” it would take to feed a woolly mammoth.

Back to Top ↑
  • Support our Site!

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Popular Posts & Pages

    Whether you are looking to completely give up animal products or just want to try eating vegan some of the time, we want to support you! Below, you’ll find articles answering some common questions about vegan cooking and nutrition. If you don’t see your question answered below, please get in touch with us! We are happy to investigate for you!

    Find out what's in season now, plus get plenty of recipe inspiration to help you make the most of every season's beautiful, local fare.

    I love infographics. When I came across this one about what, how, and when to plant vegetables, I thought I’d share. Keep reading after the pic for a few of my own lessons learned.

    Top Sustainable Food Jobs of the Week.

    Looking for an all vegan grocery store? Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your town, there are lots of online options for vegan grocery shopping.

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.