Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Mastodon refers to the large tusked mammal species of the extinct genus Mammut endemic to Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America from the Oligocene through Pleistocene, living from 33.9 mya—11,000 years ago, existing for approximately 33.889 million years.

The genus gives its name to the family Mammutidae, assigned to the order Proboscidea. They superficially resemble the woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius, which are classified within another proboscidean family, Elephantidae; Mastodons were browsers while mammoths were grazers.

Mastodons first appeared almost 40 million years ago with the oldest fossil unearthed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Mastodon sp. Fossils having been found in Bolivia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, North America, and Romania and northern Greece. Mammut americanum is generally reported as having disappeared from North America about 10,000 years ago, at the same time as most other Pleistocene megafauna. However more recent
radiocarbon dates have been found, such as 5200 BCE in Seneca, Michigan, 5140 BCE in Utah, 4150 BCE in Washtenaw, Michigan, 4080 BCE in Lapeer, Michigan. It is known from fossils found ranging from present-day Alaska and New England in the north, to Florida, southern California, Mexico, and as far south as Honduras.

Though their habitat spanned a large territory, mastodons were most common in the ice age spruce forests of the eastern United States, as well as in warmer lowland environments. Their remains have been found as far as 300 kilometers offshore of the northeastern United States, in areas that were dry land during the low sea level stand of the last ice age. Mastodon fossils have been found on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, USA (Manis Mastodon Site), in Kentucky (particularly noteworthy are early finds in what is now Big Bone Lick State Park);the floodplain of the East Branch of the DuPage River, near Glen Ellyn, Illinois; the Kimmswick Bone Bed in Missouri; in Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, Canada; at a number of sites in New York State; in Richland County, Wisconsin (Boaz mastodon); La Grange, Texas; Southern Louisiana; north of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Savannah, Georgia; and Johnstown, Ohio USA.

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