mastodon

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mastodon

(măs`tədŏn'), name for a number of prehistoric mammals of the extinct genus Mammut, from which modern elephants are believed to have developed. The earliest known forms lived in the Oligocene epoch in Africa. These were long-jawed mastodons about 4 1-2 ft (137 cm) high, with four tusks and a greatly elongated face. Their descendants in the Miocene epoch were the size of large elephants, the latest forms having long, flexible trunks, like those of elephants, and only two tusks. During Miocene times they spread over Europe, Asia, and North America. The mastodons were forest dwellers; they obtained their food by browsing and their teeth were more numerous and of a simpler form than those of the elephant. They were apparently extinct in the Old World by the early Pleistocene epoch but survived in North America until late Pleistocene times. They are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Proboscidae, family Mammutidae.

mastodon

[′mas·tə‚dän]
(paleontology)
A member of the Mastodontidae, especially the genus Mammut.

mastodon

similar to the elephant, the mastodon is now extinct. [Ecology: Hammond, 290]

mastodon

any extinct elephant-like proboscidean mammal of the genus Mammut (or Mastodon), common in Pliocene times