Trilophodon angustidens by Zdenek Burian
The genus emigrated into Asia, Europe and Africa after a drop in sea level (probably during the Tortonian epoch) allowed them to cross over. It survived into the Pliocene, and its remains have been found in France, Germany, Austria, Kansas, Tennessee, Pakistan and Kenya. Gomphotherium angustidens skeleton.
Gomphotherium, also known by synonyms such as Gomphotherium, Tetrabelodon, or Serridentinus, stood around 3 metres (9.8 ft) high, and bore a strong resemblance to a modern elephant. However, it had four tusks; two on the upper jaw and two on the elongated lower jaw. The lower tusks are parallel and shaped like a shovel and were probably used as such. Unlike modern elephants, the upper tusks were covered by a layer of enamel. Compared to elephants, the skull was more elongated and low, indicating that the animal had a short trunk, rather like a tapir's. These animals probably lived in swamps or near lakes, using their tusks to dig or scrape up aquatic vegetation. In comparison to earlier proboscids, Gomphotherium had far fewer molars; the remaining ones had high ridges to expand their grinding surface. Gomphotherium inhabited dry wedded regions near lakes.
A complete skeleton of Trilophodon has been found at Mïhldorf, Germany, in 1971.
• Original Art by Czech Paleo-Artist Zdenek Burian.
• Copyright Zdenek Burian-Heirs, © Jiri Hochman and Martin Hochman. All rights reserved.
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