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Fossil-Treasures-of-Florida-Newsletter, Issue #0008 -- The Difference between Mammoth & Mastodon
August 01, 2011

Fossil Newsletter, Issue #0008 - The Difference between Mammoth & Mastodon

August 01, 2011

In this Issue:

* How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Mammoth and a    Mastodon Tooth?
* Enamel Side Down.
* What's New at

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How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Mammoth and a Mastodon Tooth?

There has been a great number of Prehistoric Elephants in Florida. Numerous fossil teeth, of these animals, have been discovered. At least two types can easily be distinguished by their teeth or molars, and you need to know both.

The first one is the Mastodon. Its tooth has cusps or humps on the surface of the tooth. The word “Mastodon” means “nipple-teeth”. Its lineage is more ancient and leaned towards a browsing forest dweller that ate a wide variety of vegetation such as leaves, twigs, bushes, etc.

The second is a Mammoth. Its tooth has a flat surface with small ridges of soft and hard dentin. Its lineage is more recent and it is closely related to modern elephants. They both have a similar tooth design. The Mammoth tooth is adapted to grazing on grasses and living in a more open environment.

Both Prehistoric Elephants lived in Florida. The Mastodon was by far more common and their teeth are more frequently found in Florida. The Mammoth Teeth are less common in Florida. This is almost the reverse for the rest of North America, where there are more Mammoths found than Mastodons.

Enamel Side Down

One fossil tip I have for you while hunting river deposits and gravels, is that Mastodon teeth or molars are most always found enamel side down. So if you are looking for those enameled humped teeth, you are more likely to see the broken off bottom of the tooth or just the bottom of the tooth. It looks like a lot of the gravel you’re searching in. It’s funny how nature sorts these teeth out that way. Mother Nature does have a sense of humor.

What's New at

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