Mammoths and modern elephants share a common ancestor dating back a few million years. Of the two types of mammoth known in North America—woolly and Columbian—Kansas mammoths are more likely Columbian. Woolly mammoths are thought to have stayed generally to the north. Some scientists think, however, that there also have been hybrids between the two. Columbian mammoths weighed about 10 tons, while woolly mammoths weight about 4 to 6 tons. (Cars weigh about 1.5 to 2 tons.) Mammoths lived during the Pleistocene Epoch, which lasted from about 2.6 million to 11,500 years ago. All species are now extinct.

The earliest known contact between people and mammoths in the Central Plains occurred about 13,000 years ago. Evidence found at an excavation site near Kanorado on the Colorado border verified that in Kansas. Researchers now are trying to determine whether people hunted and killed mammoths even earlier at a site near Scott City. Both 15,500-year-old mammoth bones and as-yet-undated human artifacts have been found there.