Michigan Yields Yet Another Sizable Mastodon Discovery

Aug 19, 2022

Mammoths and Mastodons

Michigan is known as a home to many things. It has huge freshwater lakes, America’s car industry, and struggling professional baseball and football teams. But it’s also clear the state should be known as a great spot for seekers of very old fossils. 

Workers at a road construction site last week ran across the bones of an Ice Age mastodon. “Mastodon” covers a wide variety of elephant-like creatures from 10,000 to 14,000 years ago. They roamed the Great Lakes region — and Michigan, in particular — when the state’s Lower Peninsula broke off from the Upper Peninsula.

That’s made Michigan a “fossil hot spot,” said David Thompson. He is a member of fossil clubs in the region. The skeleton from last week is one of 300 confirmed mastodon finds in Michigan. 

The newly found bones are headed to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Cleaning, drying, and studying the fossils could take more than a year, researchers said. They’ll then go on display.

Dr. Cory Redman is the museum’s science curator. He told USA Today the mastodon was a juvenile. He also said its remains are in great condition. An exciting 40-60% of the skeleton is intact. Michigan was covered by an ocean about 365 million years ago. That was during the Devonian period. The water still around from that period probably helped preserve the fossils, scientists believe.

The museum’s team found a lower jawbone, ribs, vertebrae, and leg bones. Redman hopes a skull and tusks can be located, too, while the site is still under construction.

Which of the following is not a commonality between mammoths and mastodons? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. They are both relatives of elephants.
b. Their tusks are the same shape.
c. They are both herbivores.
d. They both have shaggy, long hair.
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