Family Mammutidae

Despite their names, these were not mammoths but mastodonts. Their cheek teeth are characterized by having a simple pattern of low, flattish-sided cusps arranged to form transverse ridges with open valleys between. This contrasts with gomphotherid teeth, which have much more complex cusps in transverse rows, and many smaller cusps filling the valleys between.

name: Mammut time: Late Miocene to Late

Pleistocene locality: North America (Alaska,

New York, Missouri) size: 10 ft/3 m high

The American mastodont, Mammut americanum, was one of the commonest of the North American proboscideans. Like the wooly mammoth, it was a cold-climate animal, covered with a coat of long shaggy hair. Some of the hairy skin is sometimes found with the skeletons. Its remains have been found as far north as Alaska, and south to Florida.

The head was quite long and held low, with a pair of massive upward-curving tusks. It browsed in herds in spruce woodlands, and may have been a contemporary of modern humans, but no definite association has been demonstrated for mastodonts and humans on the same site at the same time. Like the wooly mammoth, Mammut became extinct only about 10,000 years ago.

Other mastodonts are known from Africa, Europe and Asia, but these were not covered in hair.

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