Gomphotherium

"Welded beast"
Height:
3 m (10 ft)
Weight:
4 tons
Time:
13,650,000-
3,600,000 B.C.
Location:
Bavaria, Germany; Nyanza and Rift Valley, Kenya; Södermanland, Sweden; Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, and Tennessee, United States
Species:
Gomphotherium anguirvalis
Gomphotherium
angustidens
Gomphotherium annectens
Gomphotherium brewsterensis
Gomphotherium calvertense
Gomphotherium connexus
Gomphotherium nebrascansis
Gomphotherium osborni
Gomphotherium obscurus
Gomphotherium productum
Gomphotherium rugosidens
Gomphotherium simplicidens
Gomphotherium willstoni
Gomphotherium wimani

The gomphotheres were a family of proboscideans that first emerged in the Miocene and thrived up until the very end of the Pleistocene. Unlike modern elephants, the majority of gomphotheres had a pair tusks that protruded from elongated lower jaws, forming a shovel-like unit. This adaptation was long believed to have been for digging or scraping up aquatic plants. In recent years, however, many scientists have concluded that this tusk-like shovel may to have been used for stripping bark from trees, based on the wear patterns on the lower tusks and even snapping branches with the aid of the trunk. These trunks are believed to have appeared shorter than those of modern elephants thanks to their long low jaws.

Gomphotherium was a fairly early member of the family, as well as one of the most widespread and successful genera, spanning from Kenya to Kansas during its ten-million year existence. Its lower tusks were thinner and more pointy than those of other gomphotheres, possibly indicating that is it was a less specialized creature that Platybelodon.

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