American Mastodon

American Mastodon (Mammut americanus)
American Mastodon. Mural by R.G. Larson

The American Mastodon, (†Mammut americanus) named by Kerr, 1792, is one of the best known and among the last species of †Mammut. Its earliest occurrences date from the early-middle Pliocene (early Blancan stage). It was formerly regarded (see below) as having a continent-wide distribution, especially during the Pleistocene epoch, known from fossil sites ranging from present-day Alaska, Ontario and New England in the north, to Florida, southern California, and as far south as Honduras.

In 1739, a French military expedition found the bones and teeth of an enormous creature along the Ohio River at Big Bone Lick in what would become the Commonwealth of Kentucky. These finds were forwarded to Buffon and other naturalists at the Jardin des Plantes (the precursor of today’s Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle) in Paris.

The American Mastodon has been widely thought to have resembled a woolly mammoth in appearance. However, consideration of the long tail (usually present in animals living in warm climates), size, body mass and environment implies the animal was not similarly hairy, and there is scant preserved evidence of body hair (what little has been recovered suggests a semiaquatic lifestyle).

As adults they stood between 2.5 and 3 meters (8-10 feet) at the shoulder and weighed betweeen 3500 and 5400 kilograms (4-6 tons).

It had tusks that sometimes exceeded 5 m (16 ft) in length; they curved upwards, but less dramatically than those of the woolly mammoth. Its main habitat was cold spruce woodlands, and it is believed to have browsed in herds. Their teeth had blunt cones, which were used to browse on herbs, shrubs, and trees.

The American Mastodon became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene approximately 11,000 years ago.

17 American Mastodon in taxidermy collections

IndexNameSexOriginAgeBirthDeath dateArrivalPresent or last Location
1-Clapp Family Mastodon- 10-20 years old11,000 years ago11,000 years ago2022-08-12Grand Rapids Public Museum
2-Priscilla-F 2020-00-00Somerset Academy Jefferson museum
3-Fred the Buesching Mastodon-M1998-06-00Indiana State Museum
4-Smitty Mastodon-M10,920 to 12,160 years ago10,920 to 12,160 years ago1986-11-00Grand Rapids Public Museum
5-Johnstown Mastodon-M12,500 years ago12,500 years ago1926-00-00Cleveland Museum of Natural History
6-Kariger Mastodon-M 1921-00-00University of Nebraska State Museum
7-Warren Mastodon- about 11,000 years agoabout 11,000 years ago1906-00-00 American Museum of Natural History
8-Moorland Mastodon- 10 000 years ago10 000 years ago1905-00-00Grand Rapids Public Museum
9-Bone Spring Mastodon- 1844-00-00Illinois State Museum
10-First specimen of Mastodon- 1740-00-00Paris National Museum of Natural History
11-Randolph Mastodon- Joseph Moore Museum
12-Overmyer Mastodon-F Cincinnati Museum Center
13-Unknown name- George C. Page Museum
14-unknown- Big Bone Lick State Park
15-Peales mastodon-M Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
16-Owosso Mastodon-F about 11,000 years agoabout 11,000 years agoUniversity of Michigan Museum of Natural History
17-Manis Mastodon-nearly 14,000 yearsnearly 14,000 yearsSequim Museum & Arts


  • Mastodons, Illinois State Museum
  • American Mastodon on Wikipedia
  • American Mastodon on Wikispecies
  • Elephant Encyclopedia and database

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