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Centennial: Adaptation...Mammoths To Man


All creatures respond to their environment and ecosystems for survival success. Students investigate woolly mammoths and what caused their extinction in Utah.


  • Selected background materials for the adaptations you have chosen
  • Sample pictures showing a variety of ecosystems
  • Mammoth information
  • Illustration of mammoth.
  • PBS video Mammoths of the Ice Age (Newly discovered evidence indicates that mammoths were still living as recently as 3,500 years ago in the Siberian arctic. Can be ordered from NOVA. For information call (800) 255-WGBH.)

Background for Teachers

Throughout time the place we call Utah has been vastly different in geology, climate, and ecosystems. This continuous change has required many adaptations from the creatures that have lived here. From trilobites to mammoths to desert gatherers to us, interaction with our surroundings has shaped our survival and the place we know as home.

Instructional Procedures


(See preface material for the Utah Centennial Lesson Plans book.)

1. Ask if anyone has been to see the woolly mammoth site in Emery County. What is a woolly mammoth? Share provided background information about the woolly mammoth.

2. Illustrate what the environment was like for the Emery County mammoth based on the information you have discussed.

3. Add the mammoth to the environmental picture created for Emery County. What in the picture can be used to show the scale of the mammoth? Discuss that scale can be shown in relation to items of known size.

4. Research how Utah changed in the time after the mammoth. Discuss why the mammoth disappeared from Utah.

5. Watch the video on the Siberian Mammoth. List all clues of change and adaptation.


Draw a picture of a mammoth that might have survived. Provide a commentary for the adaptations that would have been necessary for the new mammoth to survive into modern times.

Debate whether these new creatures would be on the endangered species list. List other possible adaptation studies that could be researched such as desert tortoises, mosquitoes, etc. Have the students select and complete one.

When modern humans are the creatures that must adapt is there a change in the result? Study and present a study of the human impact on Utah. Is adapting to the environment or changing the environment better for all creatures? Discuss. What is better for people?

Research news releases for life forms having difficulty surviving their environment such as the Sego Lily or the Desert Tortoise. Create a campaign to make people aware of the difficulty. Propose solutions and work for change.

Assessment Plan


Ask students to write a science journal entry on the question(s) or topic(s) of your choice. Use the Science Writing Rubric as an assessment tool.


by Mari Domanski - adapted from a lesson submitted by Dennis Dooley

Created: 02/13/1997
Updated: 02/09/2021