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BABY MASTODON TOOTH WITH PARTIAL ROOT

Suwannee River - Florida, U.S.A.

PLEISTOCENE PERIOD:  1.8 million - 10,000 years ago

Juvenile prehistoric elephant fossils are rather rare yet make great inclusions in collections to complete a life-process exhibit.  This is a fine quality, intact fossil molar tooth from a baby Mammut americanum or 'American' mastodon.  The tooth was not broken in the environment or due to poor handling but shows a portion missing on the front as it was beginning being used in feeding as it was at the very forward-most position of the jaw.  We can tell this is not an ejected or "spit" tooth because a good amount of the root is still attached indicating the baby Mastodon died with this tooth in its mouth.  These teeth are less commonly found than ejected teeth or broken fossil parts of a tooth.  This tooth is very small, one of the smallest we have ever offered, and would have come from a very tiny, baby Mastodon elephant.  The color of the enamel is beautiful with rich tones of brown and gold.  The luster is natural and superb.  Baby Mastodon teeth of fine quality are uncommon.  A recommended specimen for collectors or curators interested in prehistoric development and lineage of the elephant in North America.  INTACT and WITH NO RESTORATION AND NO REPAIR. 

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.  In Florida, the mastodon, a member of the family Mammutidae (mammoths are members of Elephantidae), represents one of two of the oldest known proboscideans first dating back to the Miocene.  They became extinct 11,000 years ago along with all other proboscideans in Florida.  

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.  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.  These 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.

NICE BABY MASTODON MOLAR WITH PARTIAL ROOT AND FEEDING WEAR

1.45" long

SOLD     LM15-025     Actual Item - One Only

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Florida 'American' mastodon

Comparison of the skeletal structure and body types of a Florida 'American' mastodon (left)

and a Florida 'Columbian' mammoth (right)

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