Mammut americanum Kerr, 1792

American mastodon



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Mammut americanus Kerr, 1792; Mastodon americanus Kerr, 1792; Tapirus mastodontoides Harlan, 1825


Conservation Status


Last record: 10,395 ± 100 BP (Fiedel, 2009)



North and Central America (excl. California, probably excluding Nevada, and possibly excluding Idaho & Oregon too),


Mammut specimens from California have always been taxonomically assigned to M. americanum, even though the fact that they appear smaller with different tooth proportions has been noted perennially over the years (Dooley et al., 2017). Further differences between the two populations (or meta-populations) were discovered subsequent to the 2017 symposium paper (i.e. thicker femurs, six sacral vertebrae, complete absence of mandibular tusks), by Alton Dooley and other researchers as part of a crowfunding campaign. These warranted a new paper, which has now been published describing these remains as those of a new species, the Pacific mastodon: Mammut pacificus (Dooley et al., 2019).

Exhaustive biogeographical comparative data has shown that all known Mammut specimens from California which retain diagnostic characters can be assigned to the newly described Pacific mastodon (M. pacificus). Unsurprisingly there is evidence that the Pacific mastodon did not confine itself to such a modern geo-political boundary, and has been found beyond Nevada in south-eastern Ohio. It is therefore a given that it inhabited prehistoric Nevada as well, even though the desert conditions have not been conducive to fossil preservation and sampling, in contrast with the famous La Brea tar pits of California.


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Kerr, R. (1792). The animal kingdom or zoological system of the celebrated Sir Charles Linnaeus; Class I Mammalia. London: J. Murray.


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