mastodon

mastodon
mastodonic, adj.
/mas"teuh don'/, n.
1. a massive, elephantlike mammal of the genus Mammut (Mastodon), that flourished worldwide from the Miocene through the Pleistocene epochs and, in North America, into recent times, having long, curved upper tusks and, in the male, short lower tusks.
2. a person of immense size, power, influence, etc.
[1805-15; < NL < Gk mast(ós) breast + odón tooth]

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Any of several extinct elephant species (genus Mastodon) that lived worldwide 23.

7 million–10,000 years ago or later in North America, where they were contemporaneous with historic American Indian groups. Well-preserved remains are quite common. Mastodons ate leaves and had small grinding teeth and long, parallel, upward-curving upper tusks; males also had short lower tusks. Shorter than modern elephants, they had long, heavily built bodies and short, pillarlike legs. Their long hair was reddish brown. The skull was similar to that of modern elephants but lower and flatter, and the ears were small. Human hunting may have played a role in the mastodon's extinction. See also mammoth.

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▪ extinct mammal
 any of several extinct elephantine mammals (family Mastodontidae, genus Mastodon [also called Mammut] that first appeared in the early Miocene and continued in various forms through the Pleistocene Epoch (from 1,600,000 to 10,000 years ago). In North America, mastodons probably persisted into post-Pleistocene time and were thus contemporaneous with historic North American Indian groups. Mastodons had a worldwide distribution; their remains are quite common and are often very well preserved.

      A characteristic feature of the mastodons, which appear to have fed upon leaves, is the distinctive nature of the grinding teeth, which in many respects are relatively primitive. They are low-crowned, large, and strongly rooted, with as many as four prominent ridges separated by deep troughs; the teeth are much smaller and less complex, however, than those in the true elephants. The prominent upper tusks were long and grew parallel to each other with an upward curvature. Short lower tusks were present in males but absent in females.

 Mastodons were shorter than modern elephants but were heavily built. Although the skull was lower and flatter and of generally simpler construction than that of the modern elephants, it was similar in appearance. The ears were smaller and not as prominent as those of elephants. The body was relatively long, and the legs were short, massive, and pillarlike. Mastodons were covered with long, reddish brown hair. The reasons for their extinction are not certain, but, in North America at least, human hunting may have played a role.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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