Mastodons are more distantly related to living elephants than mammoths are—more like third cousins than siblings. When mastodons went extinct, their distinctive genetic history was lost.
Why Did Mastodons Go Extinct?
At the end of the last glacial period around 11,700 years ago, large land mammals in North America faced climate change and the spread of a new predator—humans. Today, paleontologists and archeologists study evidence, from kill sites to sediment cores, to unravel how these challenges played into the extinction.