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Primelephas (Fossil Museum)


Primelephas (Greek for "first elephant"); pronounced pri-MEL-eh-fuss


Woodlands of Africa

Historical Epoch:

Late Miocene (5 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 13 feet long and 2 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Elephant-like appearance; tusks in upper and lower jaws


About Primelephas:

In evolutionary terms, Primelephas (Greek for "first elephant") was important for being the latest common ancestor of both modern African and Eurasian elephants and the recently extinct Woolly Mammoth (known to paleontologists by its genus name, Mammuthus). With its large size, distinctive tooth structure and long trunk, this prehistoric elephant was very similar to modern pachyderms, the only notable difference being the smallish "shovel tusks" jutting out of its lower jaw. As to the identify of Primelephas' immediate ancestor, that may have been Gomphotherium, which lived earlier in the Miocene epoch.

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