Warren Mastodon

Part of Hall of Advanced Mammals.

Warren Mastodon mount on display in the Hall of Advanced Mammals. D. Finnin/© AMNH
An extinct, near-perfect proboscidean.

The Warren mastodon bears a strong resemblance to its neighbor in the Paul and Irma Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals, the mammoth. In fact, these distant cousins of modern elephants parted ways on the evolutionary tree of life about 25 million years ago.

Named for John C. Warren, the founder of a Boston-based museum where it was first displayed, the Warren mastodon fossil was discovered in a bog in Newburgh, New York, in 1845. It was the first complete American mastodon (Mammut americanum) skeleton found in the United States and remarkable for being preserved in the position in which it had died some 11,000 years ago: standing upright with its legs thrust forward and its head tilted upward, likely gasping for air under mud in which it had become mired.

Seven men push the fully constructed Warren mastodon mount through the a Museum hall.
© AMNH Library

The Annotated Warren Mastodon

The Warren mastodon remains one of the most complete mastodon skeletons ever found. The fossil was missing only a few toes and tail bones when it was first exhumed. But when it went on view in 1849, its tusks, which began to disintegrate shortly after excavation, were replaced by 11-foot-long papier-mâché tusks for the display. After it was acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in 1906, the preserved tusk fragments came to New York, where preparators were able to piece them together and determine the correct length: 8 feet 6 inches.

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Man stands next to the original Warren mastodon mount.

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