Elephants Take Center Stage in New Museum Exhibit

By Christina London
|  Monday, Jul 1, 2013  |  Updated 3:13 PM PDT
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Elephants Take Center Stage in New Museum Exhibit

Natural History Museum Curator of Paleontology Tom Demere stands in front of a model of an Colombian mammoth.

Elephants and their ancient relatives take center stage in a new exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

“Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age” is scheduled to open Thursday, July 4. The exhibit traces elephant history back 40 million years.

One of the most striking parts of the exhibit is a life-size model of a Colombian mammoth, which stands 14-feet tall. Curator of Paleontology Tom Demere said Colombian mammoth remains have been found in the North County and the Anza-Borrego Desert. Demere said people are often surprised to learn these animals lived so close to home.

“They think exotic animal fossils are found in other parts of the world, but actually they lived in the same area we live today, just 10,000 years ago,” Demere said.

Something else people are surprised to learn: Not all mammoths were woolly.

“The wholly mammoths lived in the higher latitudes where it was colder, where they needed a fur coat,” Demere explained.

“They didn’t live down here in Southern California. Instead, we had these more hairless forms,” he said.

The exhibit will be both educational and interactive, according to Demere. There is even a mechanical trunk, where kids can experience what it would be like to have one.

“Mammoths and Mastodons” runs through Nov. 11.

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