13,000-year-old mastodon tusk that died in battle helped uncover extinct animal’s mating migration

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the University of Michigan in the US have found out the details of the life and tragic death of a male mastodon that died 13,200 years ago. To do this, they carefully studied the chemical composition of one of his tusks.

The remains of a mastodon were found back in 1998. Now researchers have learned some details about his life and travels.

Mastodons ( Mammut americanum ) were elephant-like herbivores that lived in North America until they became extinct 10,000-11,000 years ago.

Busching’s mastodon

In 1998, a married couple, Kent and Janne Busching, found a mastodon fossil at a peat farm near Fort Wayne in Indiana, USA. The researchers found that an individual weighing 8 tons died from a puncture on the right side of the skull with the tip of the tusk of another mastodon.

Tusk analysis

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , scientists analyzed the tusk of a dead mastodon to understand how the animal lived and traveled.

Using new modeling techniques and “powerful geochemical tools,” the scientists were able to reconstruct the landscape that the animal occupied throughout its 34-year life.

The analysis showed that the home territory of the mastodon was located in Central Indiana, where it may have remained until adolescence. As he got older, he was probably expelled from the female-led herd and began to travel alone, covering up to 32 kilometers every month.

The researchers also found that the mastodon makes annual trips to northeast Indiana, doing so at least three times before dying. Researchers speculate that the site may have been his favorite summer mating spot.

Scientists suggest that during one of these seasons 13,200 years ago, a competitor wounded the mastodon in the head – this led to death. Mastodon was 34 years old.


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