They lived during the last ice age, and they may have died off when the weather became warmer and their food supply changed. The ancestral mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis) lived in warm tropical forests about 4.8 million years ago and probably had a similar diet to the modern Asian elephant. The blood protein essentially needs a certain amount of heat energy to power its release of the oxygen molecules it carries into the tissues and organs that need it. At around the same time "a cataclysmic event occurred on Earth — the Ice Ages," said Kevin Campbell of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, who led the study into the ancient animal's blood, which is detailed in the May 2 online issue of the journal Nature Genetics. To do this, they used Asian elephant RNA and a process called site-directed mutagenesis, which involves changing all the individual points in the RNA code that are different between the Asian elephant and the mammoth, effectively turning Asian elephant RNA into mammoth RNA. © The skull in Mammuthus was high and domelike. "It allows their feet and extremities to get really cold," Campbell said. The changes amounted to just 1 percent of gene region that contained the instructions for hemoglobin, "but one of those changes is profound," Campbell said. The woolly mammoth was a huge beast that roamed the earth several thousand years ago. Other Arctic animals today, such as reindeer and musk-ox, have a "counter-current" blood system. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, "We had to bring it back to life," Campbell said. Woolly mammoths also migrated. The last population of woolly mammoths were believed to have lived on Wrangel Island located in the Arctic Ocean. The woolly mammoth was found roaming the bitter Arctic tundra where they would […] Stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak by signing up to our newsletter today. Remains of mammoths have been found in Europe, Asia and North America. That’s only about 4,000 years ago! Once the Asian elephant hemoglobin checked out, the team could try mammoth hemoglobin. "Their ears were tiny, like dinner plates," Campbell said, referring to the cold-adapted mammoths. Campbell first thought of examining mammoth hemoglobin DNA in this way when he was studying hemoglobin during a postdoctoral posting in Denmark and also happened to see a Discovery Channel show on the mammoth, and "it was this little lightbulb moment," he said. It is well-known from numerous cave paintings. Interestingly, the mammoth DNA had two separate mutations that are different from those seen in mammals today. "They used a completely different" way to solve the hemoglobin problem to adapt to the cold, Campbell said. Receive mail from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors? 10 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Animals. The lumbering, shaggy-haired woolly mammoth once thrived in the frigid Arctic plains despite having originally migrated from a more tropical climate. But this counter-current system isn't enough by itself to keep Arctic animals functioning in the cold. The woolly mammoth was an enormous mammal that once roamed the vast frozen, northern landscapes in large size.