New York SuperGraphic

The Mastodon

The American mastodon roamed North America from the Miocene epoch some 20 million years ago to the late Pleistocene epoch about 10,000 years ago. Mastodons, extinct relatives of the modern elephant, were abundant in North America during this time. Belonging to the Mammutidae family, the mastodon originated in North Africa and Eurasia before settling in North America millions of years ago. Along with mammoths and modern elephants, mastodons are members of the order Proboscidea. As adults, mastodons stood between eight to 10 feet high at the shoulder and weighed between four and six tons. Their coat was made of fine underwool with an overlay of long hair, two to seven inches long.

Mastodons used their blunt cone-shaped teeth to feed on a diet of herbs, shrubs and trees. They used their intimidating straight tusks to break off branches.

Related images

Painting of Mastodons
Courtesy of PRI
Painting by Ithaca artist W.C. Dilger 1952
Mastodons walking across Ithaca's South Hill, 13,000 years ago.

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