ELDERLY PLIOCENE GOMPHOTHERE JAW WITH ORIGINAL FINAL MOLAR SET PRIOR TO DEATH
Suwannee River - Florida, U.S.A.
PLIOCENE PERIOD: 5.3 - 1.8 million years ago
This is both a VERY
rare and uncommon proboscidean fossil. It is the full lower jaw of a
Pliocene era Gomphothere Cuvieronius tropicus, a bizarre
prehistoric ancestor to the modern day elephant. Such a fossil jaw
with its original teeth is rare but what makes this specimen especially
interesting is that this is from an
elderly Cuvieronius tropicus
in its final years of life
with its LAST set of molars still in place. This superb
specimen presents both, a very impressive display as well as a highly
important educational lesson in the life of prehistoric elephantids.
The massive molars in the bone are the original teeth and the final set of molars
the gomphothere grew prior to death. The alveoli in the bone,
anterior to the molars, are from the previous set of molars and can be
seen to be in a state of growing closed. The furthest anterior
openings in jaw are where the lower tusks emerged.
The jaw is not a composite of two different sides from different
gomphotheres but is 100% original with only minor repair and
restoration. The front of the molars are
not broken from handling damage or carelessness when this specimen was
initially collected, but from the slow disintegration of the molars as
they are worn when the gomphothere was alive. In other words, the
teeth are not damaged but are in their final state of natural feeding
wear and were exactly as they are now, when this beast perished millions
of years ago. Gomphothere fossils are very rare. Even a
single molar is a prize find but a full jaw with both original molars is
something usually reserved for museum or educational institution
Very few specimens like this reside in private ownership making this a
definite recommendation and a unique offer to individual collectors.
ARE THE RAREST OF ALL ELEPHANT FOSSILS!!!
are strange prehistoric elephants that resembled a Mastodon but with a
set of large lower tusks as well as the upper set of tusks the other
Their grinding teeth, for
example, had many more cusps and more complicated wear patterns than
those of mastodons.
Gomphotheres belong to the
family Gomphotheriidae, a family within the mammal order Proboscidea
that have been
extinct since the Pleistocene Period. Gomphotheres are regarded as the ancestor
to the genus Stegodon as well
as mammoths and both
the present living species of
Gomphotheres had both upper and lower incisor tusks.
sometimes nicknamed "shovel tuskers" for this feature.
Unlike the compact
and high domed skull of the mammoths, the skull of gomphotheres was elongate and low.
They seemed well-adapted for a life in lakes and swamps where they
used their tusks to dig or scrape up the vegetation.
Emerging 55 million
years ago, the group of mammals called proboscideans are identified by
the presence of tusks and a trunk. They comprise three families: Mammutidae, Gomphotheriidae and Elephantidae.
The oldest known proboscideans in North America date back to the Miocene.
Cuvieronius, the last genus of New World gomphotheres to become
extinct, was widely distributed in North, Central, and South America.
All elephant species in these regions became extinct 11,000 years ago.
Differences in proboscidean tooth anatomy tell us about the types of food
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. Gomphotheres
likely fed on aquatic vegetation with their complicated, rounded cusp
pattern. The mammoth
with its smoother teeth, was best suited for the open plains, feeding on
a variety of grasses.
have 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
FULL JAW WITH BOTH ORIGINAL MOLARS IS SELDOM SEEN IN PRIVATE
COLLECTIONS - RARE!
16.5" wide x 16"
long overall with molars 8.25" and 7.75" in length
Item - One Only