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Delta

Mastodon Tooth

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I found this tooth on the Arkansas side at the bank of the Mississippi River. Any advice on the era/age?

post-11067-0-82805000-1360860257_thumb.jpg

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... Any advice on the era/age?

The species had a good run, from 3.7 million years ago to about 12 thousand years ago. I don't know any way to narrow that down on a tooth found outside of its geologic context except for radiometric dating.

Very nice find, by the way!

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yall make elephant huntin look much easier than i do! great find.

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Wow. Nice roots on that thing.

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I agree with Auspex, outside of the layer it was found in, you can never really tell the age of a fossil other then by the time period it lived in. It is definitely a nice tooth though, congrats!

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Great tooth----Tom

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Looks to be in pretty good shape. It isn't unusual to find them without any root and a well worn crown.

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The root was sticking out of the sand and stuck out like a sore thumb from all of the other rocks around it. From what I've read, the 3 rows of teeth indicate it was a juvenile. The sandbar where I found it gets cut off from the mainland when the river rises...but during the summer and fall you can find the coolest rocks that look like iron, but are really just hardened clay in all sorts of different shapes like bowls and...you name it. I'm trying to figure out how to seal that type of rock so that when the clay eventually dries out it doesn't crack. And of course I'll keep looking for the rest of that mastodon.

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I found one last month that is nearly as nice. My own shovel broke the root on mine but much more is intact than is typically found. The root on mine was quite brittle so be careful as it dries out. Congrats on a rare find!

Here is the link:

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php/topic/34504-this-is-turning-out-to-be-one-heck-of-a-year-so-far/

Edited by RickNC

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great find.....as for the age, I agree with the above comments, it is impossible to tell without the geological information....but, you do have a find to be proud of....

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Very Nice

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The size

From what I've read, the 3 rows of teeth indicate it was a juvenile.

The size of this tooth and the wear to the crown indicate that this tooth was from an adult animal.

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RickNC, nice find! It's interesting to see the difference in color of the teeth.

Prehistoric FL, I have read that 3 rows of "nipple" teeth is a juvenile, 4 an adult, and 5 a mature adult (and then no more rows, and the molars grind down thus causing the animal to starve to death as in modern day elephants since it can no longer grind down its food).

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The tooth you found is the front molar of a young mastodon. When juveniles they had two of these molars on each side with three rows of cuspids. As they aged the front tooth ejected as a larger molar erupted from the back which had four rows of cuspids. The front molars usually have the most wear and examples often show heavy wear. The lack of significant wear on the tooth indicates a fairly young animal.

The average age range for mastodon remains found in the eastern US is between 14,000 and 10,000 years.

Edited by jpevahouse

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RickNC, nice find! It's interesting to see the difference in color of the teeth.

Prehistoric FL, I have read that 3 rows of "nipple" teeth is a juvenile, 4 an adult, and 5 a mature adult (and then no more rows, and the molars grind down thus causing the animal to starve to death as in modern day elephants since it can no longer grind down its food).

Delta, Not sure where you read this information, but it is only partially correct at best. Adult mastodons have eight teeth, four teeth are trilophodont (they have three lophs), and four teeth have either four or five lophs depending on the animal's genes and sexual dimorphism.

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Most of the fossils found in that area were buried by loess during the last glacial maximum. I think the age can be narrowed down to between 24,000 BP-15,000 BP.

There are fossils of different ages mixed in there, though, everything from Eocene to Late Miocene/ Early Pliocene to late Pleistocene.

However, mastodons were common during the late Pleistocene. If you can distinguish it as a tooth of Mammut americanus rather than from an earlier Pliocene species of mastodon, I can almost guarantee it dates to the late Pleistocene.

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Delta, Not sure where you read this information, but it is only partially correct at best. Adult mastodons have eight teeth, four teeth are trilophodont (they have three lophs), and four teeth have either four or five lophs depending on the animal's genes and sexual dimorphism.

I had a slightly different view, which can easily be incorrect. I heard that on each of the 4 possible surface areas, a adult Mastodon starts with 1 two loph tooth, followed by 3 three lopf teeth, and lastly 1 4 lopf tooth. The teeth emerge on a conveyor belt with only a single tooth on each chewing surface doing the vast amount of work. This photo seemed to confirm, I could just detect a 4th lopf on the lower right rear tooth.

Took this photo at a Tampa Fossil show display.

post-2220-0-99308400-1361367979_thumb.jpg

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I had a slightly different view, which can easily be incorrect. I heard that on each of the 4 possible surface areas, a adult Mastodon starts with 1 two loph tooth, followed by 3 three lopf teeth, and lastly 1 4 lopf tooth. The teeth emerge on a conveyor belt with only a single tooth on each chewing surface doing the vast amount of work. This photo seemed to confirm, I could just detect a 4th lopf on the lower right rear tooth.

Took this photo at a Tampa Fossil show display.

Use this very young mastodon jaw for reference. The dp2 and dp3 are missing, but you can clearly see the alveoli for them. Baby mastodons are born with the dp2 and dp3 teeth. Both the dp2 and dp3 are bilophodont (two lophs). The dp4 is trilophodont and you can see it just starting to emerge from the jaw. Following the dp4 are m1 and m2 (both trilophodont). Then comes the m3 which has four to five lophs.

post-151-0-93827100-1361369853_thumb.jpg

Edited by PrehistoricFlorida

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Updating my understanding: I thought that there was 1 instead of 2 bilophodont teeth leading off and did not realize that the m3 could have 5 lopfs. Thanks

I have been fortunate; Coming up on the 4th anniversary of my 1st fossil trip, I have found a dp2 cap, a dp3 cap and one trilophodont with roots. But I have a fossil friend who showed me a complete half mandible with 3 teeth, likely a juvenile. Still looking.

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Updating my understanding: I thought that there was 1 instead of 2 bilophodont teeth leading off and did not realize that the m3 could have 5 lopfs. Thanks

I have been fortunate; Coming up on the 4th anniversary of my 1st fossil trip, I have found a dp2 cap, a dp3 cap and one trilophodont with roots. But I have a fossil friend who showed me a complete half mandible with 3 teeth, likely a juvenile. Still looking.

Both the dp2 and dp3 are bilophodont. Depending on genes and sexual dimorphism the m3 can have four or five lophs.

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