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Mammoths are members of the group Proboscidea, so named for the elongate muscular proboscis or “trunk” which is a unique tactile (touch) sense organ. Like other members of this group, Mammuthus exhibits skeletal modifications for bearing great weight, including column-like limbs. Mammuthus is more closely related to the extant elephants of Asia and Africa than it is to the extinct mastodons like Mammut. Evidence for this includes features of the cheek teeth, which are specialized for grinding. The cheek teeth consist of transverse loops or plates of enamel that provide a washboard-like surface for chewing grasses. The tusks of Mammuthus are often long and curved and are found only in the upper jaw.
Mammuthus species that roamed Texas in the Pleistocene included the Columbian and Jefferson´s mammoths, but not the woolly mammoth. There is some controversy as to whether the Columbian and Jefferson´s mammoths are distinct species or just different populations exhibiting geographical variation. Mammoth remains have been found at several Paleo-Indian kill sites in North America. These include localities in Texas such as Lubbock Lake (Lubbock County), and the Miami Site (Roberts County). Climatic change and human hunting have been implicated in the extinction of the mammoth 11,000 years ago.
Dr. Ernest L. Lundelius, Jr. of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory excavated the original specimen in 1985, with assistance from the Trammell Crow Company and Lone Star Archaeological Services. Its age is estimated to be about 15,000 years before present, based on radiocarbon dates obtained from organics in the clay immediately surrounding the bones. The skeleton is currently housed at the Texas Natural Science Center´s Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory.