Michigan's Ice Age Behemoths: Selected Papers on Mastodonts and Mammoths from the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters

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INTRODUCTION

For many years the annual meeting of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters has been a golden place to exchange ideas about the Pleistocene flora and fauna of the state. And no wonder, for because of its glacial history, Michigan has been a critical area for Ice Age studies. All of the discussants at this yearly forum doubtlessly would agree that the most awesome and important members of the Pleistocene fauna are the mastodonts and mammoths, huge proboscideans (elephant-like beasts) that were the dominant members of the terrestrial community of the time. Yet both mastodonts and mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago, not only in Michigan but all over the world at the time of the great Pleistocene extinction of mammalian species at the end of the epoch.

The past sixty-odd years of proboscidean study in Michigan have been especially important, because during this interval efforts have shifted from the collection, recording, and exhibition of large mastodont and mammoth remains to an attempt to answer many biological questions about them. Why did the become extinct so suddenly? …