American mastodon (composite)

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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.

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  • Title: American mastodon (composite)
  • Location: Pleistocene sediments, Pulaski Co., Indiana
  • Physical Dimensions: L: 562 cm W: 178 cm H: 282 cm
  • Type: Skeleton
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • USNM Catalog Number(s): V8204, V8411
  • Scientific Name: <i>Mammut americanum</i>
  • Photo Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
  • Historic Period: Lived 3.5 million–11,500 years ago
  • Geologic Age: Cenozoic - Quaternary - Pleistocene
  • Field: Paleobiology


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