Mastodon Ridge

  • Was found at the National Gypsum Quarry site, about 15 km. from Mastodon Ridge, in a gypsum sinkhole
  • Lived about 79,000 years ago
  • Was about 22 years of age and died in the spring of the year
  • Gathered with other mastodons at the gypsum sinkhole site because of the minerals in the soil
Bringing our mastodon, Marvin, to life

The project of creating the mastodon replica began by first sculpting a clay scale model based on information supplied by archeologists as well as illustrations and other models. At a scale of 1” = 1', close attention was paid to skeletal and muscular structure, in particular the shape and size of its shoulders and unique sloped head.

mastodon-1The mastodon ears proved to be a bit of a problem since no one knows exactly what they would have looked like. Unlike African and Asian elephants, which have large floppy ears to provide a cooling effect, mastodons living in cold climates probably didn't develop such large ears. It was decided to give the mastodon smaller versions of those found on modern elephants.


mastodon-2Once the clay model was perfected, work commenced on the production of a full-scale fiberglass and steel replica, actually slightly larger than life-size for impact.

First, large blocks of Styrofoam were sculpted into the Mastodon image approved by the archeologists and based on the clay model.

mastodon-3Molded tusks were installed and a stainless steel armature was incorporated into the foam sculpture for structural integrity. This stainless steel skeleton eventually provided the base for securing the finished model to its cement mounting pad. A 3/8” thick layer of fiberglass was then applied to the entire mastodon and given a weather resistant finish. A simulated fur coat was added using a mixture of polyester and fiberglass and the entire model was painted the colour the creature may have been when it roamed this area thousands of years ago.

mastodon-4The mastodon replica weighs approximately 3000 lbs. (1400 kg). It stands 10 feet (3.5 m) high at the shoulder, 13 feet (4.5 m) high at the tip of its outstretched trunk. From the tail to the tips of its tusks it measures 22 feet long (7.5 m). The tusks alone are 6 feet (2 m) long. The entire project, from sculpting the clay model to the completion of the fiberglass and steel replica took about 8 weeks. In January of 1995 the mastodon was delivered to Mastodon Ridge.

Facts about mastodons
  • Mastodon is Greek for nipple-tooth. Mastodon teeth have several cusps or points, adapted for eating forest vegetation.
  • Mammoths and elephants have flat teeth with ridges that are better suited for a grass diet.
  • Mastodons traveled in herds
  • Mastodons lived at a time when the climate was colder than present day
  • Mastodons had a thick coat similar to that of today's musk oxen
  • Mastodons fed on conifers and marsh vegetation like the native moose today
  • Males had 2 sets of tusks - 1 upper, and 1 lower
  • Their upper tusks were up to 6 feet long, and lower ones were 7 inches to 2 feet
Mastodon Links

The following are links with further information about mastodons in North America.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

General Information about mastodons and links to other sites

Calvin College

Illinois State Museum

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