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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Mastodons and Mammoths

March 9, 2016

Mastodon and Mammoth teethMastodons and Mammoths are both extinct ice-age megafauna, distantly related to today’s elephants. The mammoth eats grass, and its teeth are flat to allow crushing the vegetation. The mastodon has a series of high bumps on the teeth to allow it to eat browse such as twigs. Mammoth remains are found predominantly on the plains, and mastodon predominantly in the eastern woodlands. However, the La Crosse area has remains of both species, suggesting that the vegetation here at the end of the ice age was a mosaic of both grassland and woodland that could support both species.

Photo: Single tooth from: Left-mammoth, right-mastodon. The mammoth tooth is fragile and some of the tooth is broken, exposing the deep tooth enamel. Mammoth lose their teeth as they are worn down, and new ones emerge to replace them.