Mastodon re­mains go to UM re­searchers

The Detroit News - - Front Page - The Detroit News

Ann Ar­bor — The Univer­sity of Michi­gan will re­ceive the re­mains of a fe­male mastodon found near Grand Rapids, thanks to a con­struc­tion crew.

The work­ers were ex­ca­vat­ing a road through a planned hous­ing de­vel­op­ment on Aug. 31 in By­ron Town­ship when they found the re­mains of the mastodon, a pre­his­toric rel­a­tive of the ele­phant.

Daniel Fisher, di­rec­tor of the UM Mu­seum of Pa­le­on­tol­ogy, said in a news re­lease that fe­male mastodon skele­tons are rel­a­tively rare com­pared with males.

“Males, by their life­style, tended to be soli­tary, whereas fe­males tended to live in ma­tri­ar­chal fam­ily groups,” said Fisher, who is UM’s Claude W. Hib­bard Col­le­giate Pro­fes­sor of Pa­le­on­tol­ogy. “It may have been eas­ier to am­bush and sur­prise a soli­tary in­di­vid­ual than it was to am­bush and sur­prise a group.”

The skele­ton found last month is the third to be dis­cov­ered since 2015, when Fisher un­cov­ered a mam­moth in a Chelsea farm field. A mastodon also was found in the Thumb re­gion at the Fowler Cen­ter for Out­door Learn­ing in 2016. Both also were do­nated to UM. Mam­moths were slightly larger than mastodons, which lived at the same time in Michi­gan. Re­mains of both have been found in the lower half of Michi­gan’s lower penin­sula, but not to the north.

Fisher’s ex­pla­na­tion for that: Glaciers re­ceded ear­lier in south­ern Michi­gan, al­low­ing the growth of veg­e­ta­tion for mastodons and mam­moths to eat.

Re­mains pro­vide re­searchers such as Fisher in­for­ma­tion about things like re­pro­duc­tion, growth, health and age.

Univer­sity of Michi­gan

Mastodon re­mains found near Mayville, in Michi­gan’s Thumb re­gion, in 2016 also were sent to UM.

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