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Mastodon

Mastodon!<-- This template has to be "warmed up" before it can be used, for some reason -->

Filozoa

Mastodons (Greek: μαστός "breast" and ὀδούς, "tooth") were large tusked mammal species of the extinct genus Mammut which inhabited Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Central America from the Oligocene through Pleistocene, 33.9 mya to 11,000 years ago.[1] The American mastodon is the most recent and best known species of the group. Confusingly, several genera of proboscids from the gomphothere family have similar-sounding names (e.g., Stegomastodon) but are actually more closely related to elephants than to mastodons.

The genus gives its name to the family Mammutidae, assigned to the order Proboscidea. They superficially resemble members of the proboscidean family Elephantidae, including mammoths; however, mastodons were browsers while mammoths were grazers.

Contents

History and distribution

Mastodons first appeared almost 40 million years ago; the oldest fossil (Mastodon sp.) was unearthed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fossils have also been found in England, Germany, the Netherlands, North America, Romania[2] and northern Greece.

Description

Right Maxilla with 2nd and 3rd molars of Mammut americanum on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania

While mastodons had a size and appearance similar to elephants and mammoths, they were not particularly closely related. Their teeth differ dramatically from those of members of the elephant family; they had blunt, conical, nipple-like projections on the crowns of their molars,[3] which were more suited to chewing leaves than the high-crowned teeth mammoths used for grazing; the name mastodon (or mastodont) means "nipple teeth" and is also an obsolete name for their genus.[4] Their skulls are larger and flatter than those of mammoths, while their skeleton is stockier and more robust.[5]

Species

American mastodon

Life restoration of Mammut americanum.

The American mastodon (Mammut americanum), the most recent member of the family, lived from about 3.7 million years ago until it became extinct about 10,000 years BCE. It is known from fossils found ranging from present-day Alaska and New England in the north, to Florida, southern California, and as far south as Honduras.[6] The American mastodon resembled a woolly mammoth in appearance, with a thick coat of shaggy hair.[7] It had tusks that sometimes exceeded five meters in length; they curved upwards, but less dramatically than those of the woolly mammoth.[5] Its main habitat was cold spruce woodlands, and it is believed to have browsed in herds.[8] They are generally reported as having disappeared from North America about 10,000 years ago,[9] as part of a mass extinction of most of the Pleistocene megafauna. Paleo-Indians entered the American continent and expanded to relatively large numbers 13,000 years ago,[10] and their hunting may have caused a gradual attrition of the mastodon population.[11][12]

Other species

Restoration by Charles R. Knight

Mammut cosoensis was endemic to North America, from the Pliocene, living from 4.9—1.8 mya, existing for approximately 3.1 million years.[13] Pliomastodon cosoensis was named by Schultz (1937). Its first fossil location is the Coso Mountains in California. It was recombined as Mammut cosoensis by Shoshani and Tassy (1996).[14][15]

Mammut furlongi was endemic only to North America and from the Miocene living from 23.03—5.33 mya, existing for approximately 17.7 million years.[16] Mammut furlongi was named by Shotwell and Russell (1963). Its first fossil location is Black Butte, a Miocene terrestrial horizon in the Juntura Formation of Oregon.[17]

Mammut raki was endemic to North America from the Pliocene, living from 4.9—1.8 mya, existing for approximately 3.1 million years.[18] Mastodon raki was named by Frick (1933). Its type locality is Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico. It was recombined as Mammut raki by Tedford (1981) and Lucas and Morgan (1999).[19][20]

Mammut spenceri is known from the Miocene, living from 16.9—16 mya, existing for approximately 0.9 million years.[21] It was named by Fourtau (1918). Its type locality is Wadi Moghra, Egypt.[22]

Current excavations

Exhuming the First American Mastodon by Peale

Excavations conducted from 1993 through early 2000 at the Diamond Valley Lake reservoir outside of Hemet in Riverside County, California yielded numerous remains of mastodon, as well as numerous other Pleistocene animals. The abundance of these remains, all recovered by paleontologists from the San Bernardino County Museum, led to the site being nicknamed the "Valley of the Mastodons".

Current excavations are going on annually at the Hiscock Site in Byron, New York, for mastodon and related paleo-Indian artifacts. The site was discovered in 1959 by the Hiscock family while digging a pond with a backhoe; they found a large tusk and stopped digging. The Buffalo Museum of Science has organized the dig since 1983. There were also excavations at Montgomery, New York in the late 1990s.

In July 2007, a team of Greek and Dutch paleontologists excavated the longest mastodon tusks in the world in Milia, a village near Grevena. The tusks each measure 5 meters long, and weigh 1 ton. Experts believe that the mammal was a 25–30 year-old male, 11.375 feet (3.5 meters) tall and weighed approximately 6 tons.[23][24]

In August 2008, miners in Romania unearthed the skeleton of a 2.5 million-year-old mastodon, believed to be one of the best preserved in Europe.[25] Ninety percent of the skeleton's bones were intact, with damage to the skull and tusks.[25] In 2009 a family in Portland, Michigan unearthed mastodon bones while excavating a new pond on their property. It is one of approximately 250 mastodons found in Michigan over the past century.[26]

As of July 2009, six mastodon fossils were discovered in Elmacık village, in Burdur province, Turkey. Also the first excavation to discover mastodon fossils took place in Elmacik village in 2006.[27]

In August 2009, workers in Indiana, while digging a coal-slurry storage pit, unearthed mastodon remains. These remains include pieces of ribs, skull, tusks, and a kneecap. The remains were turned over to the Indiana State Museum for study and preservation.[28]

See also

References

  1. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Mammut, basic info
  2. ^ 2.5 million-year-old mastodon unearthed in Romania
  3. ^ Mastodons
  4. ^ Agusti, Jordi and Mauricio Anton (2002). Mammoths, Sabretooths, and Hominids. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 106. ISBN 0-231-11640-3. 
  5. ^ a b Kurtén and Anderson, p. 345
  6. ^ Polaco, O. J.; Arroyo-Cabrales, J.; Corona-M., E.; López-Oliva, J. G. (2001). "The American Mastodon Mammut americanum in Mexico". In Cavarretta, G.; Gioia, P.; Mussi, M. et al.. The World of Elephants - Proceedings of the 1st International Congress, Rome October 16–20, 2001. Rome: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. pp. 237–242. ISBN 88-8080-025-6. http://www.sovraintendenzaroma.it/content/download/4787/62368/.../237_242.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-25 
  7. ^ Palmer, D., ed (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. pp. 124. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  8. ^ Palmer, D., ed (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 243. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  9. ^ "Greek mastodon find 'spectacular'". BBC News. 24 July 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6913366.stm. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  10. ^ Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, Illinois: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. 
  11. ^ Ward, Peter (1997). The Call of Distant Mammoths. Springer. pp. 241. ISBN 978-0387985725. http://books.google.com/?id=E-JRXiFbcwkC&printsec=frontcover. 
  12. ^ Fisher, Daniel C. (2009). "Paleobiology and Extinction of Proboscideans in the Great Lakes Region of North America". In Haynes, Gary. American Megafaunal Extinctions at the End of the Pleistocene. Springer. pp. 55–75. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-8793-6_4. ISBN 978-1-4020-8792-9. http://www.springerlink.com/content/m39544m241500322/fulltext.pdf. 
  13. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Mammut cosoensis, basic info
  14. ^ J. R. Schultz. 1937. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication 487
  15. ^ J. Shoshani and P. Tassy. 1996. Summary, conclusions, and a glimpse into the future. in J. Shoshani and P. Tassy, eds., The Proboscidea: Evolution and Palaeoecology of Elephants and Their Relatives 335-348
  16. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Mammut furlongi, basic info
  17. ^ J. A. Shotwell and D. E. Russell. 1963. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 53
  18. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Mammut raki, basic info
  19. ^ R. H. Tedford. 1981. Geological Society America Bulletin 92
  20. ^ S. G. Lucas and G. S. Morgan. 1999. New Mexico Geology 21
  21. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Mammut spenceri, basic info
  22. ^ R. Fourtau. 1918. Contribution a l'Étude des Vertébrés Miocènes de l'Égypt 1-109
  23. ^ Scientists present longest prehistoric Mastodon tusks ever found in the world and model, Reuters, Jan 2008, Retrieved on 04 September 2009
  24. ^ Remains of mastodon discovered in Grevena, Kathimerini, 24 July 2007, Retrieved on 04 September 2009
  25. ^ a b 2.5 million-year-old mastodon unearthed in Romania, USA Today, 2008-08-08, Retrieved on 11 August 2008
  26. ^ "Michigan Family Finds Prehistoric Bones - Mastodon Bones To Be Given To University Of Michigan". The Associated Press. July 2, 2009. http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/19932305/detail.html. Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
  27. ^ "Mastodon Fossils Discovered In Burdur/Turkey". Yerbilimleri. July 17, 2009. http://www.yerbilimleri.com/burdurda-mastudon-fosilleri-bulundu. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  28. ^ "NEW: Mastodon remains found 30 miles south of Terre Haute". TribStar.com. 18 August 2009. Archived from the original on 2 May 2010. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Ftribstar.com%2Flocal%2Fx1896315752%2FNEW-Mastodon-remains-found-30-miles-south-of-Terre-Haute&date=2010-05-02. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
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