| Creature of the Quarter-|
The American Mastodon
Almost everyone has heard of the Mastodon but it still gets second billing status many times to the larger, more familiar mammoth. Both were very large elephant relatives but the mammoth was far more closely related to elephants today than the mastodon.
Mammoths and mastodons roamed far and wide over much of North America and the world during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs between 5 million and 10,000 years ago. Mastodons grew to 10' tall at full maturity and were very bulky, large animals. Their teeth were multi-cusped and shaped very differently from Mammoths owing to their browsing diet on low trees, shrubs, flowers, pine cones and low vegetation. Mammoths are known for primarily grazing on grass and had lower crowned, flat grinding teeth. Because of their different diets mastodons and mammoth could co-exists without competing for food. Mastodons tended to be more forest and woodland inhabitants while mammoths spent time in open grasslands although they undoubtedly shared habitat on occasion.
Recent chemical analysis studies of fossil mastodon teeth reveal that they migrated seasonally in search of preferred food or possibly water. Global water levels were much lower during the ice-age and water was seasonally very scarce. There is also much evidence of human interaction with both mammoths and mastodons between 10 and 13,000 years ago in North America. European dates for interaction go back even further. Spear points, carved bone and tusk have all been found in association with mastodon and mammoth fossil remains.