Mastodon and Mammoth Fossils

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Conway Mastodon at Ohio Historical Center.jpg
View of a mastodon skeleton known as the Conway Mastodon that is on display at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio. During the Ice Age mastodons roamed the North American continent. This skeleton was found in 1887 in a swamp located between Champaign and Clark counties in Ohio. It is known as the Conway Mastodon because it was presented to The Ohio State University by Newton S. Conway in 1894. The skeleton came to the Ohio Historical Society, on loan from The Ohio State University, in 1970. It is estimated that this mastodon was 20 to 30 years old when it died. It stands 10 feet high at the shoulder and each of its ivory tusks weighs more than 100 pounds.

Without question the most significant and well-known extinct Ice Age animal found in Ohio was the American mastodon, Mammut americanum. Although most specimens consist of isolated teeth or tusks, a number of nearly complete specimens have been found. Several are on display at museums in the state, including the famous Conway mastodon displayed at the Ohio History Center. Mastodons were elephantlike animals that were sturdily built browsers of open spruce forests. Adults stood about nine feet high at the shoulder and they weighed between four and five tons. Their cone-shaped teeth are distinctive. Most complete specimens have been found in the sediments of former glacial lakes. Some specimens show evidence of having been butchered by Paleoindians.

Mammoths were elephants that are related to the modern Indian elephant. They were more slimly built than mastodons and were primarily grazing animals more common to grasslands. Although mammoth remains are not uncommon in Ohio, they are decidedly less common than are the remains of mastodons. Two species of mammoth have been recognized in Ohio: Mammuthus primigenius, the northern mammoth, and Mammuthus columbi, a more southerly species. Both mastodons and mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago.  

See Also

References

  1. Hansen, M. C., 1996. "Phylum Chordata--Vertebrate Fossils," in Fossils of Ohio, edited by R. M. Feldmann and Merrianne Hackathorn. Ohio Division of Geological Survey Bulletin 70, p. 288-369.