Mammoth vs. Mastodon

To most people, the differences between mammoths and mastodons are trivial. What’s one prehistoric elephant to another, right? Wrong. Despite looking similar and coexisting in some parts of the world, mammoths and mastodons are two very different animals. For starters, neither mammoths nor mastodons are technically elephants. Mammoths, mastodons, and elephants belong to a group of animals known as proboscideans. Mammoths and elephants are very closely related, whereas mastodons are a little more distant on the evolutionary tree. Mastodons appear in the fossil record about 28 million years ago, while mammoths don’t appear until about 4 million years ago. Mammoths were animals of the grasslands and plains while mastodons preferred more forested habitats. We can tell this from looking at the animals’ teeth. Mammoths are grazers with large, flat molars covered in ridges for grinding tough, silica-rich grasses. Mastodons are browsers, with low-crowned molars with pointed cusps meant for dealing with leaves, branches, and twigs. Both animals were large, but overall mammoths were larger. The largest mammoths could weigh 10 tons and stand over 15 feet at the shoulder while mastodons weighed about 5 tons and were 10 feet at the shoulder. Mammoths are long-limbed with a relatively short torso and curved tusks, whereas mastodons are more stocky and robust with barrel-chests and straighter tusks. Unlike mammoths, which only have tusks in the upper jaw, some mastodon species had tusks in both the upper and lower jaws. Mammoths and mastodons have the same total number of teeth, but mastodons had two molars exposed per jaw at a given time versus the mammoths’ one.

Mastodon molar (left) and Mammoth molar (right)

Mastodon molar (left) and Mammoth molar (right)

How To Shop For A Reptile: Part 1 – Pre-Purchase

So you think you want a pet reptile? Reptiles can make wonderful and rewarding pets, but there are several things to take into account before going to the pet store.

  • What type of animal are you looking for? Do you want a reptile you can take out and handle regularly or one that is more of a display animal?
  • Reptiles live longer on average than mammalian pets: many lizards can live 10 to 20 years, snakes can live 15 to 30 years, and turtles and tortoises can live for decades. Purchasing a reptile pet is a major commitment and one must be prepared to care for the animal its whole life.
  • Most reptiles are predatory and need to consume other animals (crickets, mealworms, mice, etc) to survive. If you cannot handle feeding one animal to another, a reptile may not be for you.
  • Reptiles are known to carry salmonella and should be avoided by those with compromised immune systems (children under 3, the elderly, pregnant women).
  • Always research the animals you are interested in before you consider making a purchase. It is vital to educate yourself and know what exactly you are getting yourself into.
  • Because reptiles are considered “exotic” pets, you have to take them to specialized vets and the bills may be pricey.
  • Because reptiles are cold-blooded, it is necessary to provide heat and lighting. This will result in an increase in your electricity bill.
  • Most reptiles do not bond with their owners in the way a dog or cat would. If you are looking to have a deep, two-way emotional relationship with an animal, consider a different species.
  • Reptiles require specialized habitats and lightning, which can be expensive. Investing in a pet reptile is in many ways no different from investing in a dog or cat.