Columbian mammoths had roamed the grasslands of the West, whereas mastodons thrived in the forests of the East — a conclusion arrived at locations where their fossilized remains were found.
Fossilized remains of mammoths and mastodons, known as the all-American monsters, were found in locations around the hills of South Dakota. Mammoths looked like African elephants, except that they were much larger, each of which weighing as much as a large-sized bus which is what a guide tells tourists at the mammoth site in the town of Hot Springs, while pointing at a set of corrugated, brick-size teeth that appear like the soles of running shoes, enabling them to consume more than 400 pounds of grasses and sedges a day.
Digs reveal bones of mammoths with shoulder blades protruding out of the ground, together with leg bones, ribs, skulls and tusks. In one area alone, the skeletal remains of 58 mammoths lie exposed and placed beneath a roof in order to protect the finds. The site in Hot Springs, was discovered by a paleontologist about 35 years ago, considered to be uniquely famous, where bones of those massive monsters are revealed. About 26,000 years ago, mammoths struggled to get out of a sinkhole where they were lured because of a proliferation of vegetation where they probably perished.
Colombian mammoths were larger than mastodons. Tourists can imagine the trumpeting of those huge, hairy monsters before they had vanished mysteriously about 11,000 years ago. Mammoths stood 60 or 70 feet high and moved around freely before their disappearance.
Paleontologists have arrived at the conclusion that mammoths and mastodons (two difference species) were concentrated around the Hudson River Valley. Mammoths roamed the grasslands of the American West, including Siberia. The smaller species (the incognitum) roamed the heavy forests, east of the Mississippi River, and browsed on the branches of trees. The teeth of the incognitum were shaped like conical cusps that appeared like breasts. Paleontologists named it “mastodon,” from the Greek mastos (for breasts), and odont (for tooth). The bones of a mammoth and a mastodon were different. The teeth of a mastodon was designed to grind branches, whereas those of a mammoth were made to eat grasses.
It is believed that the demise of mammoths can be attributed to their futile struggle in pits where they were trapped and from which they could not get out, because of their size and weight.