The Pleistocenealso known as the Ice Ageis the period of time from 2.6 million years ago until about 10,000 years ago. During this time, Oregon was home to some very different (and often much larger) animals than those you'd see today, but there were also some familiar faces.
Ice Age Giants is also available in Spanish.



Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) had big feet and a giant stride. They also carried a heavy load: A tusk alone could weigh over 100 pounds and grow 14 feet long! Altogether, at about 22,000 pounds, a mammoth was as heavy as a school bus.  

Mammoths were herbivores (plant eaters) and consumed 300 to 400 pounds of vegetation a day. Their long trunks were specially adapted for plucking grass and their flat, washboard-like teeth were very effective for chewing plants. With all that chewing, it's not surprising that mammoths went through six sets of molars in their lifetime! 

Did you know that the museum has two life-size Columbian mammoth sculptures in our courtyard? Watch this clip and see how one of these giants was installed! 


Thousands of years ago, giants roamed Oregonincluding giant beavers, Columbian mammoths, and the 9-foot-tall Harlan's ground sloth (Paramylodon harlani). Giant sloths were herbivores (plant eaters) whose diet focused on grasses, leaves, tree roots, and twigs. They had giant claws, so they walked on the backs of their hands. 


The saber-tooth cat, or Smilodon, was about six feet long and over three feet tall, weighing 350 to 600 pounds. Now that’s a big cat! They could likely jump as high and far as lions can today—that's 12 feet high and over 20 feet in distance.

As a carnivore (meat eater), Smilodon preyed on large mammals like bison, camels, ground sloths, and young mammoths. They could leap out of hiding to catch their prey and could open their mouths as wide as 120 degrees—almost twice as wide as modern tigers can!




Prehistoric Finger Puppets 
Create your own mammoth and Smilodon puppets with the help of our easy-to-follow guide. Download and print the puppet templates and gather your other materials. You'll need scissors, pipe cleaner, tape, and colored pencils or crayons.


Open wide... 
A sabertooth cat could open its jaw nearly 120 degrees, revealing its impressive, blade-like canine teeth. Modern large cats can only open their jaws about 65 degrees.

Look in the mirror and compare your teeth with Smilodon’s. How are they different from yours? How are they like yours? How wide can you open your mouth?

Leap like a lion.
Sabertooth cats could likely jump as high and far as today's lions can—12 feet high and over 20 feet in distance. How high and far can you leap? Grab a measuring tape to see how your jumps compare to those of a big cat.


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Make a mammoth
This 14-minute video will show you how to make your own origami mammoth at home, using only paper! 

Share your masterpiece. Post a pic of your mammoth on Instagram and tag the museum: @mnch_uo. 


Forgotten Elephants of Deep Time
Did you know that there were many different species of elephants millions of years ago? In this 30-minute video from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, you can go back in time with paleontologist Advait Jukar to learn about the different kinds of elephants from the past. See real fossils and explore how body size, tooth shape, and habitat played a role in the evolution of the elephant.


Stroll like a sloth
Giant ground sloths had huge claws, so they walked on the backs of their hands. Try to crawl like a sloth by using the backs of your hands. Why do you think sloths moved so slowly?


Pasta play!
Use paper and dried pasta to create skeletons of the ancient giants you met here today. Check out the instructions, download and print the Smilodon and/or sloth outlines (or draw your own), and get creative. 

Show us your creations! Post a pic of your animal skeleton on Instagram and tag the museum: @mnch_uo. 

Explore our other at-home adventures.

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