Quick facts about Mammoth Ivory
It is natural to look for information about mammoth ivory and how it is procured. Well the
fact is that woolly mammoths had long tusks (now considered ivory) which were more
curved than the tusks of modern elephants. Male tusks were larger and female tusks were
thinner and smaller. The envelopes on the tusks were spaced closely and parallel. The tusks
grew in different directions from the base and continued to grow in a curve until the ivory
tips pointed each other. Mammoth ivory tusks are asymmetrical and show considerable
variation; some of these tusks curve down instead of outward while some are shorter
because they broke.
Mammoth tusk ivory are modified two upper incisors are lived at least 10000 years in the
natural cold regions of Russia and Alaska. Their fossilized tusks are being found which are
buried deep inside the permafrost.
Calves of wooly mammoths had smaller milk tusks, which are replaced by permanent tusks
after a year. Tusks growth is ceased when the animal reached adulthood. Most of the tusks
were unearthed emerging from riverbanks, after floods receded, while they have been found
during road construction and gold mining. Irrespective of how they are discovered, ivory
tusks are excavated by following the federal and state regulations. These fossilized ivory
hues of blue, brown or tan are result of hundreds of years of mineralization. The color
variation is due to the mineral deposits in the soil that were absorbed by organic ivory.
Each tusk demonstrates beauty and unique character which is never seen in any other piece
of fossil ivory. Any mammoth tusk ivory which can be restored is brought to its original
form, polished and sold to artists and collectors all around the world.
Mammoth Ivory vs. Elephant ivory
You will find that most of the mammoth and elephant ivories look similar, but researchers
have worked upon a few identification methods that determine the difference between the
two. A blue-green or brownish colored blemish, usually an iron phosphate is present in
mammoth ivory. It is hardly visible with naked eyes and has dramatic purple appearance
when seen under ultraviolet lights. On the other hand, elephant ivories are not colored and
do not have the fluorescence of vivianite. Additionally, the Schreger lines in both ivories
differ. The mammoth ivory has a crisscross pattern while elephant ivory has more of wavy
lines. This can be an important factor to discriminate between both the lustrous ivories.
After elephant was banned, the demand has shifted to mammoth ivory as it is the only legal
ivory that is available today.
Caring of Mammoth Ivory
Mammoth ivory is sensitive to the surrounding ambient temperatures and heat and humidity
can affect the natural dexterity, it can turn brittle and split due to expansion and
contractions. Thus, raw ivory has to be kept as per requirement in climate controlled
storage. For the protection of ivory, it is advised to rub mineral oil two times a year so that
its natural oils are replenished.