The scientific tourist #260 — Gomphotherium phippsi

Brought to you from 13 million years back, courtesy of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, it’s Gomphotherium phippsi:

Gomphotherium phippsi

Gomphotherium may look a lot like an elephant, but he had his own unique approach.  He apparently had a short trunk and rather than sporting two tusks, he had four — two in his upper jaw (in the usual elephant-style geometry), and two mounted in his lower jaw.  His lower tusks were parallel, and are thought to have been used like a shovel to gather aquatic foods.

Gomphotherium evolved in the Early Miocene in North America, about 13.6 million years ago.  During a drop in sea level, they were able to expand into Europe, Asia, and Africa — surviving for a total of 10 million years.  This particular specimen lived 13 million years ago, in what is now Nebraska.

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