The american Mastodon, Mammut (1799)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Proboscidea
Family : Mammutidae
Genus : Mammut
Species : M. americanum, M. matthewi, M. raki, M. cosoensis
- Late Miocene/late Pleistocene (6 Ma - 12,000 years)
- 2,8 m high and 4 400 kg
- North and central America
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 12,000 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.
The first remains of Mammut were found in the village of Claverack, New York, in 1705, a tooth some 2.2 kilograms (5 lb) in weight, which became known as the “incognitum”. Some time later, similar remains were found in South Carolina, which according to the slaves, looked remarkably similar to those of African elephants, soon followed discoveries of complete bones and tusks in Ohio, and people started referring to the “incognitum” as a mammoth, like the ones that were being dug out in Siberia. Anatomists noted that the teeth of mammoth and elephants were different from those of incognitum, which possessed rows of large conical cusps, indicating that they were dealing with a distinct species.
They are generally reported as having disappeared from North America about 12,700 years ago, as part of a mass extinction of most of the Pleistocene megafauna, widely presumed to have been as a result of rapid climate change in North America, as well as the sophistication of stone tool weaponry used by the Clovis hunters. The latest Paleo-Indians entered the American continent and expanded to relatively large numbers 13,000 years ago, and their hunting may have caused a gradual attrition of the mastodon population. Analysis of tusks of mastodons from the American Great Lakes region over a span of several thousand years prior to their extinction in the area shows a trend of declining age at maturation; this is contrary to what one would expect if they were experiencing stresses from an unfavorable environment, but is consistent with a reduction in intraspecific competition that would result from a population being reduced by human hunting.
Asian dwarf elelphant, Palaeoloxodon naumanni (1845)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Proboscidae
Family : Elephantidae
Genus : Palaeoloxodon
Species : P. naumanni
- Pleistocene (500 000 - 15 000 years)
- 2 m high and 1 500 kg
- India, China and Japan
Palaeoloxodon naumanni is closely related to the modern Asian Elephant, Elephas maximus. Similar to mammoths P. naumanni had a subcutaneous fat layer and long fur as an adaption to a cold environment. The species had a pair of long twisted tusks and a bulge on the head. These tusks grew more than 2.4 m in length, 20 cm in diameter. It was a little smaller than Asian elephants averaging 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) to 3 metres (9.8 ft). It lived in forest which mixed subarctic conifers and cool-temperate deciduous trees. The ancestor of Palaeoloxodon naumanni moved from the Eurasian continent to Japan via land bridge; it subsequently evolved independently after the land bridge was covered by sea and spread throughout Japan. Palaeoloxodon naumanni was hunted by the inhabitants of the time. Some fossils were found around Lake Nojiri (Nagano, Japan) together with a lot of stone tools or bone tools.
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