Mammoths are one of the most iconic ancient mammals, largely because of their size and the concept of a relative of the elephant surviving in the cold seems bizarre in today’s world, where modern day elephants only live wild in tropical climates.
This exhibition opens with a replica of a mammoth skeleton in bedrock and an actual thigh bone just to give a context of their scale. From here, the show never lets up on this sense of scale with mammoth skulls, tusks and hair samples adding to the wonder of a towering full-scale model of a Columbian mammoth, alongside other giants of the time including a short faced bear and a sabre toothed cat.
All Natural History Museum exhibitions need to be engaging for children, and younger visitors won’t be disappointed with models they can touch, a robotic arm they can control, which mimics a prehensile trunk, and a game where they can control mammoth heads to try and out-wrestle each other.
But adults have not been forgotten and the display is littered with interesting facts such as the elephant family tree showing us that mammoths aren’t actually direct descendants or ancestors of elephants — they both diverged from an earlier common ancestor. It also tackles questions such as how close we are to being able to clone a mammoth, and the ongoing conservation efforts to preserve modern day elephants.
The highlight is of course Lyuba — a baby mammoth who was found in Northern Russia in 2007. She is remarkably well preserved and it’s a great opportunity to see the detail of the skin and hair up close.
This is an example of what the Natural History Museum does best, an informative exhibition that is appealing to adults and children alike.
Mammoths: Ice Age Giants is on Natural History Museum until 7 September. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions are £6.
Also on at Natural History Museum is One Million Years — an exhibition charting the evolution of humans.