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Mastodon tusk chemical analysis reveals first evidence of one extinct animal’s annual migration

“The result that is unique to this study is that for the first time, we’ve been able to document the annual overland migration of an individual from an extinct species,” said University of Cincinnati paleoecologist Joshua Miller, the study’s first author.

Around 13,200 years ago, a roving male mastodon died in a bloody mating-season battle with a rival in what today is northeast Indiana, nearly 100 miles from his home territory, according to the first study to document the annual migration of an individual animal from an extinct species.

The 8-ton adult, known as the Buesching mastodon, was killed when an opponent punctured the right side of his skull with a tusk tip, a mortal wound that was revealed to researchers when the animal’s remains were recovered from a peat farm near Fort Wayne in 1998.

Northeast Indiana was likely a preferred summer mating ground for this solitary rambler, who made the trek annually during the last three years of his life, venturing north from his cold-season home, according to a paper scheduled for online publication June 13 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study also shows that the Buesching bull may have spent time exploring central and southern Michigan, which seems fitting for a creature whose full-size fiberglass-cast skeleton is on display at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor.

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Release Date: 06/14/2022
Tags: Museum of Natural History