The elephant-like American mastodon was a distant relative of the mammoth, with whom it shared its ice age home. There have been over 200 mastodon fossil finds across North America, but they seem to have been most common along the eastern seaboard and in an area immediately south of the Great Lakes. In 1977, a unique find of a complete mastodon was made in Washington State. A human-made spear point was found embedded in the ribs and further investigation showed that the bones had healed around the spear point. This suggested that humans had attacked this animal, but that it had survived and died much later of old age.
Scientific name: Mammut americanum
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
Mastodons (Greek: μαστός "breast" and ὀδούς, "tooth") are an extinct group of mammal species related to elephants, that inhabited North and Central America during the late Miocene or late Pliocene up to their extinction at the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Their genus name is Mammut, and they are members of the order Proboscidea. They lived in herds and were predominantly forest dwelling animals that fed on a mixed diet of browsing and grazing with a seasonal preference for browsing, in contrast to living elephants that are mostly grazing animals.
The American mastodon is the most recent and best-known species of the genus. They disappeared from North America as part of a mass extinction of most of the Pleistocene megafauna, widely presumed to have been a result of rapid climate change in North America, as well as the sophistication of stone tool weaponry used by the Clovis hunters which may have caused a gradual attrition of the mastodon population.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.