What’s Bigger: A Mastodon or an African Elephant?

If you’re like me, you grew up assuming that Mastodons (being from the Ice Age) must have been larger than our extant African Elephant.  And the thought of that was awesome.  The truth is, they weren’t.  In fact, the African Elephant remains the reining largest land mammal ever to have lived.   The Wooly Mammoth came close (and in some cases came in for a tie), but the African Elephant is still one giant dude!

Here’s the break down:

Wooly Mammoth

Height:  9-11 feet

Weight:  4-6 tons

Fur:  dense

Ears:  Small

Tusks:  Curved and twisted

American Mastodon

Height:  8-10 feet

Weight: 4-5 tons

Fur:  probably dense

Ears:  Unknown

Tusks:  Sometimes 2 pairs

African Elephant

Height: 10-11 feet

Weight:  4-6 tons

Fur:  very sparse

Ears:  Large

Tusks:  Gently curved

So, that means that taking them all at their largest, the African Elephant is the tallest, and equals the top weight of the Wooly Mammoth.  What I find interesting is that we see what we would expect from the Elephants cold weather ancestors, the Mammoth and Mastodon.  They are shorter, but just as heavy.  That is, they are more efficient in cold weather, keeping body temperature more stable.

I’m more like the Wooly Mammoth!  Short and stocky.  OK, they weren’t short, but  still, I rarely need a jacket.

Reference:
The Call of Distant Mammoths: Why the Ice Age Mammals Disappeared

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4 responses to “What’s Bigger: A Mastodon or an African Elephant?

  1. That sucks! Another childhood myth destroyed !
    So what, next you are going to attack Santa’s Reindeer?

  2. I think the Indricotherium was a larger land mammal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indricotherium

  3. Carlos spicyweiner

    Pfft they no compare to Mexican wooly t Rex chupacra hybrid

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