Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The ancient relatives of the modern elephants - Mastodons and Mammoths...



Mastodon vs. Mammoth
 


The Mastodon was a relative of the prehistoric Mammoth, although similar in appearance there was a numerous amount of difference between the two.

Appearance

The mammoth and mastodon are often misconceived to be much larger than what they really are. They are, in fact, very similar in size to the modern day Asian elephant, which grows up to 3 meters high at the shoulder. The coat of a mammoth was similar to that of musk oxen, growing up to 90 centimeters in length. Other physical characteristics of the mammoth included a high-peaked forehead, and a high hump that resulted from their long spines and neck vertebrae and possibly accentuated by fat deposits and thick hair. They had a shorter trunk than the modern day Asian or African elephants that we are used to seeing today.

The Mammoth and The Mastodon

There is a number of different Mammoths and Mastodon species that diverged from the Asian elephant after the latter group split from the African elephant. They are all mammals and belong to a species called Proboscideans. From the Mastodon two Asian and African elephants evolved. Probably the most recognized/symbolic species of the four would be the woolly mammoth, or mammuthus primigenius, this is because of their broad geographic distribution, adaptation to cold environments, and relative abundance during the last ice age.


The mastodon roamed the open spruce woodlands, usually in areas such as valleys and swamps. They inhabited almost all the world living in every continent except for Antarctica and Australia. The oldest known mastodon fossil is about twenty-eight millions years old and are they are thought to have gone extinct eight thousand years ago.

http://skywalker.cochise.edu/wellerr/students/mammoth-mastodon/mastodon.htm

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