Mammutidae is an extinct family of proboscideans that appeared during the Oligocene epoch and survived until the start of the Holocene. The family was first described in 1922, classifying fossil specimens of the type genus Mammut (mastodons), and has since been placed in various arrangements of the order. The name "mastodon" derives from Greek, μαστός "nipple" and ὀδούς "tooth", as with the genus, referring to a characteristic that distinguishes them from allied families. The genus Zygolophodon has also been assigned to this family. Mammutids ranged very widely, with fossils found in North America, Africa, and throughout Eurasia.
|Mounted mastodon skeleton, Museum of the Earth|
|The inferred range of the Mammutidae|
In August 2008, miners in Romania unearthed the skeleton of a 2.5-million-year-old mastodon, believed to be one of the best preserved in Europe. Ninety percent of the skeleton's bones were intact, with damage to the skull and tusks. In 2009, a family in Portland, Michigan, unearthed mastodon bones while excavating a new pond on their property. It is one of around 250 mastodons found in Michigan over the past century.
In August 2011, a skeleton of a mastodon was found near Tomislavgrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In November 2011, a mastodon skeleton was unearthed in Daytona Beach, Florida, during construction of a retention pond. The find is being studied by the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences.
It has been traditionally assumed that mammutids are the most basal group within Elephantimorpha, with gomphotheres being more closely related to elephants. However recent molecular and mophological evidence suggests that trilophodont gomphotheres and mammutids are more closely related to each other than they are to elephants.
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