Paläontologische Zeitschrift

, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 229–250 | Cite as

Skeleton of a Late Pleistocene steppe mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii) from Zhalainuoer, Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, China

  • Asier LarramendiEmail author
Original Research


In 1980, in the Lingquan Strip Mine of Zhalainuoer, Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, China, two partial skeletons of Mammuthus trogontherii were unearthed and subsequently stored at the Inner Mongolian Museum in Hohhot. In March 1984, an almost complete skeleton of M. trogontherii was recovered in the same coal mine. This third steppe mammoth skeleton (Zhalainuoer III) is now exhibited at the Zhalainuoer Coal Mine Museum. It is the best-preserved skeleton of M. trogontherii ever found. A previously identified dropping and the enclosing sediments where the Zhalainuoer skeletons were found were dated to the Late Pleistocene. The almost complete third skeleton (Zhalainuoer III) is that of a fully grown male. The age at death of this individual was estimated at c. 53 years. It had a shoulder height of 389 cm in the flesh and a body mass of 10.5 tons. The completeness of the Zhalainuoer III skeleton provides new information about the morphology and the osteology of M. trogontherii. Especially noteworthy is the complete preservation of the caudal vertebrae.


Mammuthus trogontherii Mammuthus sungari Mammoth Skeleton Late Pleistocene Zhalainuoer 


Im Jahre 1980 wurden im Tagebau-Kohlenbergwerk Lingquan bei Zhalainuoer in der Autonomen Region der Inneren Mongolei, China, zwei Teilskelette von Mammuthus trogontherii ausgegraben und anschließend im Museum der Inneren Mongolei in Hohhot aufgehoben. Im März 1984 wurde in der nämlichen Grube ein fast vollständiges Skelett von M. trogontherii geborgen. Dieses dritte Steppenmammutskelett (Zhalainuoer III) ist jetzt im Bergwerksmuseum von Zhalainuoer ausgestellt. Ein Skelett von M. trogontherii das der Vollständigkeit näher käme wurde bisher nicht gefunden. Ein schon früher identifizierter Kotball und die umgebenden Sedimente, in denen die Skelette von Zhalainuoer gefunden wurden, wurden ins späte Pleistozän datiert. Das fast vollständige Skelett des dritten Mammuts (Zhalainuoer III) gehörte einem ausgewachsenen männlichen Individuum, dessen Sterbealter schätzungsweise 53 Jahre betrug. Samt Weichteilen erreichte es eine Schulterhöhe von 389 cm und eine Körpermasse von 10.5 Tonnen. Die Vollständigkeit des Skelettes Zhalainuoer III liefert neue Informationen über die Morphologie und Osteologie von M. trogontherii, besonders weil die Schwanzwirbelserie vollständig erhalten ist.


Mammuthus trogontherii Mammuthus sungari Mammut Skelett spätes Pleistozän Zhalainuoer 



I give heartfelt thanks to Dr Chun-Hsiang Chang (Department of Geology, National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan) and his family for the hospitality and help received during my trip in China in April 2011. I am very grateful to Professor Adrian Lister for revising and improving this work and for providing invaluable discussion on dating of the fossils. I also want to thank Wang Han-jun for giving free access to the skeleton for study, Tong Hao-wen for his kindness during my visit to the IVPP, Dick Mol for his support, comments, and information given, Dr Andrey V. Shpanskiy for clarifying some doubts about the Pyatiryzhsk mammoth, Vadim V. Titov for sending me some papers and comments, Rubén Molina Pérez for sourcing literature, Ramón López for weighing muskox pelts, and Alberto Saavedra (sculptor) for reproducing, to scale, the physical sculpture of the mammoth on the basis of my multi-view restoration. My thanks are also due to the staff of the Inner Mongolian Museum.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EoFauna Scientific ResearchGipuzkoaSpain

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