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MASTODON FOSSILS

Mastodon

"Nipple Tooth"

MIOCENE to LATE PLEISTOCENE PERIOD:  3.7 million to 10,000 years ago


Emerging 55 million years ago, the group of mammals called Proboscideans are identified by the presence of tusks and a trunk and comprise three families: Mammutidae, Gomphotheriidae and Elephantidae.  Because Mammoths such as the Imperial or Woolly Mammoth are different than Mastodons, they are included in the Elephantidae.  The family Mammutidae which includes all Mastodons, represents one of two of the oldest known proboscideans first dating back to the Early Miocene with the species Eozygodon morotoensis.  They became extinct 10,000 years ago joining the demise of most other prehistoric proboscideans.  The last surviving mastodon was the American mastodon.  All that has survived today is from the family Elephantidae which are  Elephas and Loxodonta.   

When standing aside a mammoth, the mastodon looks just like a Neanderthal version of the proboscideans.  The body form is shorter, more stout and robust and lends itself to a much more muscular physique in contrast to the more graceful and taller mammoth.  Mastodons had a pair up upward curving main tusks and some had a much smaller set of straight rod-like lower tusks.  In some species, the lower tusks fell out as the animal grew in years. 

The cheek teeth of mastodons are also more primitive with sharp crests and a dramatic lobed surface in unworn examples compared to the flat and fine ridged surface of mammoth teeth that resemble the sole of a boating sneaker.  This type of tooth of the Mastodon is called zygolophodontThese differences tell us about the types of food that both types of creatures ate.  The mastodon was more suited for forest environments with teeth that were well adapted for chewing tougher vegetation like twigs, leaves, shrubs, fruits, pinecones, pine needles and mosses.  The mammoth with its smoother teeth, was best suited for the open plains feeding on a variety of grasses.  

A mastodon, like all proboscideans, has a system of horizontal tooth replacement whereby new molars erupt from the rear of the jaw and move forward.  The most worn teeth at the front, are pushed out of the jaw.  Sometimes while still in the jaw, the anterior portion of a worn front tooth is broken off.  These partial teeth are found as fossils along with complete specimens.  

A baby proboscidean at age 6, will have already had three sets of teeth.  By 13 years of age, the fourth set emerges followed by a fifth set at age 27 years.  The final set of teeth come in around 43 years of age and as it wears away, the animal eventually starves to death and dies on average between 60 and 80 years of age.  Interestingly, the animal's life is limited by the fact that after the sixth set, no new teeth grow in to replace the final worn down set and the animal is no longer able to chew its food.  This characteristic is still true of modern elephants.  

Mastodon fossils have been found in Africa, Europe, North America and in the Mediterranean.

Misspellings:  Mastadan, Mastadon, Mastidan, Mastidon

- copyright Paleo Direct, Inc., (art by Mineo Shiraishi)  All images and text on this site are protected and may not be used in any way.

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LAND MAMMALS - MAIN


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INCREDIBLE SUPREME BABY MASTODON ELEPHANT MOLAR WITH INTERESTING TOOTH DECAY CAVITY - Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A.

2.5" long x 1.8" wide

$795     LM15-039     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

EXTREMELY RARE SET OF BABY MASTODON LOWER TUSKS WITH MOLAR TOOTH ALL FROM SAME ELEPHANT - Underwater Marine Site, Gulf of Mexico - Florida, U.S.A.

Lower tusks are 1.8" and 1.3" long and molar tooth is 3.2" long

$2495     LM15-019      INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

RARE GEM GRADE SET OF TWO VERY YOUNG BABY MASTODON ELEPHANT UPPER AND LOWER JAW MOLAR TEETH - Suwannee River - Florida, U.S.A.

1.55" long each

$995     LM15-020      INCLUDES DISPLAY BOX     Actual Item - One Only

 

 

BABY MASTODON TOOTH WITH PARTIAL ROOT  - Suwannee River - Florida, U.S.A.

1.45" long

$195     LM15-025     Actual Item - One Only

 

Each fossil comes with a certificate of authenticity / information sheet.