Common name for any of the extinct elephant-like mammals that constituted the family Mastodontidae of the order Proboscidea ('long snouted').
The leaf-eating mastodons were widely distributed in the forests of the world from Oligocene to Pleistocene times.
Mastodon remains have been found worldwide and are often remarkably well preserved. Like the modern elephant, the mastodon was very large, with thick, sturdy legs; a huge head; tusks; and a flexible, muscular trunk.
Like the mammoth, the mastodon was covered with shaggy hair. The animals differed from elephants and mammoths, however, in having complete tuberculate teeth. Their upper tusks were long and curved; they had transverse crests on their grinding teeth.
Mastodons first appeared almost 40 million years ago, and have gone extinct only about 10 thousand years before the current age.
Mastodon americanus, almost the size of a modern Indian elephant, was common throughout what is now North America, from Alaska to central Mexico; it did not become extinct until about 11.000 years ago. Adults stood between 2.5 and 3 meters (8-10 feet) at the shoulder and weighed between 3500 and 5400 kilograms (4-6 tons).
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Sources: Article is scheduled to be reviewed.
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