During the Cenozoic Era, some of the animals we see today had ancestors that were incredibly larger than the specimens wandering the earth now. For example, elephants had some pretty spectacular ancestors with longer, stronger tusks. Some of their distinct cousins were covered in hair (like the wooly mammoth). In this article, you will learn about prehistoric elephants, bears, and primates.
Longest Mastodon Tusk
The mastodon was a creature that lived from around 3.7 million years ago until about 10,000 years BC. The last surviving member of the mastodon family was called the North American proboscidean. Fossils of this beast have been uncovered in present-day Alaska, Florida, California, El Salvador, Honduras, and New England. The creature lived in a habitat characterized by cold spruce woodlands.
The mastodon was known for their tusks , a feature that gives them their similarity to the elephant and whooly mammoth. The tusks of the American mastodon sometimes exceeded five meters in length and curved upwards in a less dramatic manner than the woolly mammoth. The tusks most likely aided the mastodon in breaking branches and twigs, as well as helping the males win over a female in a mating challenge.
The longest mastodon tusk ever found measures 16 feet 6 inches. It was excavated in July of 2007 at a dig in Milia, Grevena in Greece.
Most Complete Fossil Primate
The most complete fossil of an early primate that had been discovered to date was the remains of a creature that resembled the lemur of today. It was called Darwinius masillae and its fossil was located in Germany in 1993. The specimen was of a female that measure 3 feet long. While the find was discovered in 1993, it wasn’t until May of 2009 that news of the discovery hit the headlines. An international team of scientists shared with the rest of the world that the primate dated back 47 million years ago.
Largest Elephant Ever
When central Europe was a budding region millions of years ago, the Steppe mammoth Mamuthus trogontherii was a giant cousin of the present-day elephant. A fragmentary skeleton of the species was located in Mosbach, Germany that suggests it was 14 feet 9 inches tell at the shoulder height, which compares to the largest recorded African elephant, which has a shoulder height of 12 feet. These types of creatures could weigh more than 9 tons.
Out of all the bear species that roamed the earth in history, the giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) is known as the largest of all time. The prehistoric species was also called the bulldog bear and it weight an estimated 1,322 to 1,763 pounds. The males were larger than their female counterparts. When they were positioned on all fours, they stood around 5 feet 3 inches at the shoulder.