Tate Museum Mammoth Foot

An elephant has stumpy, massive feet that leave deep, almost perfectly round footprints. But if you saw an elephant walk through an X-ray machine, you’d get a surprise: underneath all the soft tissue, the animal is actually walking on tip-toe! Underneath the heel bone, or calcaneum, the living elephant has a thick, wedge-shaped pad of fat. This spreads out the weight of the animal and keeps the foot bones from cracking under the pressure. It also allows the elephant to move in almost complete silence.

The way that the foot bones of a mammoth are jointed show that they, too would have walked on tip-toe. Fossil mammoth footprints show that the sole of the animal’s foot was almost perfectly round-so, like an elephant, there would have been a fat pad under the heel. Other soft tissues filled out the spaces around the other bones, and a thick nail would have capped the tip of each toe. All told, the foot of a mammoth looked a whole lot like the foot of a modern elephant – just bigger and hairier.

Left: Reconstruction of Dee’s right hind foot, showing the fat pad (yellow), muscles (red) and tendons (blue).
Right: Restoration of Dee’s left foot as it would have appeared in life.

mammoth feet anatomy illustration

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  • Sunday  Closed

Where is the Tate Geological Museum?

We are located on the Casper College Campus in Casper, Wyoming.

To find us, type in “Tate Geological Museum” and Google Maps  will take you straight to the museum.

If you type in our address,  “125 College Drive”, Google Maps will take you to the center of campus. To get to the museum from there, go south (uphill) from the gym on Lisco Dr. (the campus access road). The Tate Geological Museum will be on the right at the top of campus. You should pass 2 other buildings before you’ll get to the Tate. Look for the life size T. rex statue in front of the museum.

Stop by for a visit!

Thank you to the Blue Envelope Health Fund for generously donating two AEDs to the Tate. One is located at the museum and the other is taken into the field during our many digs, field trips and expeditions. THANK YOU!