The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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the St. Petersburg Museum, where the tusks measure nine feet six inches ; but a semicircle was more common. The mammoth skeletons are usually over nine feet in height, and fifteen feet in length, and when we add muscles and skin, we shall have a very large beast indeed.
The modern elephant is only to be found in hot coun­tries, and is confined to Africa and to India. The mam­moth, on the contrary, preferred a cold or temperate climate, and roamed all over Europe, North America, Siberia, and the northern part of Africa. There is scarcely a single English county, except perhaps Cornwall, where its bones have not been found, in the soft clays and gravels and soil washed down by the rivers in the far-off days, when the earliest race of man appeared on the earth.
How strange it would seem to us now, taking a walk along the wooded banks of the Thames near Ox­ford, to stumble suddenly on a gigantic mammoth, tearing down the sweet young branches with his trunk! He must have looked a huge monster, indeed, with his powerful tusks, often nearly eleven feet long, and his thick coat adapted to face the snows of England and Kussia, and the still greater cold of North Siberia. Over his dark grey skin the soft brown wool curled closely, and, above that, was an outer garment of long, almost black hair. Big and clumsy as an elephant is, a mammoth was bigger and clumsier still; but he was by no means the only great animal that found England in those times a pleasant place to live in ; for, in many instances, the bones of the hippopotamus and a woolly rhinoceros are to be seen buried beside him, while lions, tigers, and hyenas had not yet wandered to the south.
In those days, as in these, the elephant tribe, of which the mammoth was one, fed on vegetable substances, and even in Siberia, where such enormous numbers of their fro/en remains have been discovered, there was obviously some sort of food for them. Birches, willows, and fir trees of various kinds, grew then, as now, in those bleak
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