Amebelodon, Shovel tooth, was a type of primitive elephant called a gomphothere that evolved in the Miocene and is ancestral to elephants and mammoths. Gomphotheres, were a diverse family and widespread in North America, South America, Eurasia and Africa during the Miocene and Pliocene. They often had four short tusks and are believed to have had elephant-like trunks. As the grasslands replaced forests in the Ice Ages, they were replaced by elephants and mammoths.
Genera and Species
Classification: Proboscidea, Gomphotheriidae, Amebelodon
Species: A. floridanus, A. fric
Synonyms: Amebelodon hicksi, Amebelodon paladentatus, Amebelodon sinclairi, Mastodon grandincisivum, Stegotetrabelodon grandincisivus, Trilophodon hicksi, Trilophodon paladentatus
Amebelodon had two pairs of tusks, one in the upper jaw and one pair in the lower. The lower pair of tusks were shaped to form a shovel-like structure that pointed forwards from the lower jaw. The trunk would have been long and flexible and used for feeding.
HEIGHT: 3 m (10 ft).
WEIGHT: 1 – 3 tones.
Amebelodon is related to the elephant and like them, may have lived in herds of females and their young. Males were either solitary or lived in bachelor herds. They were diverse browsers and grazers. The lower pair of tusks was shaped into a shovel-like form that was a specialized tool used to scoop up water plants, scrape bark and process plant material. Amebelodon used its teeth in a variety of ways. Based upon wear patterns on its teeth, it seems like Amebelodon not only used its teeth/lower jaw to shovel, but also to scrape bark from trees and otherwise gather food from different sources. Amebelodon were not sifters of swamp-muck as they have traditionally been portrayed.
History of Discovery
Amebelodon was discovered by Erwin Hinckley Barbour in 1927. It is known from remains of multiple individuals.
Amebelodon lived first in North America then later spreading to Africa and Eurasia in mosaic environment of grasslands, tree stands, and meandering rivers.
Amebelodon. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/a/amebelodon.html
Switek, B. (2009, July 9). The Mystery of the "Shovel-Tuskers" Retrieved November 8, 2015.http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/11/another-use-for-shovel-tusks/