More about mammoths : Behavior

How Did Mammoths Scratch Their Backs?

Ever wonder how large animals like elephants or mammoths scratch their backs? We know that elephants rub against tree trunks to scratch themselves. But what about mammoths?

What's the evidence?

rubbing rock

Rubbing rock photo by Sarah Anne Bettelheim.

On the coast of northern California, scientists came across large rock boulders that have a shiny smooth surface about 10 feet above the ground. They think that mammoths rubbed against these rocks to scratch their backs. Over time and with repeated motion, all that rubbing smoothed the rock. The rubbings are the perfect height for a large mammal like a mammoth to rub up against, and the scientists have not come up with any other explanation for the smooth surfaces.

Watch the below video from KQED's Quest series to learn more about Bay Area rocks that were polished by scratching mammoths.

Created by QUEST on KQED Public Media.