Cornell's Gilbert Mastodon Research:
Mastodon Teeth Isotopes
"You are what you eat." This is true not only for humans, but extinct mastodons as well. Scientists have drilled holes in the teeth of both the Hyde Park and Gilbert Mastodons and are analysing the chemistry of these cuttings. As an amimal eats, certain chemical ratios of the food he/she eats becomes incorporated into the animal's bones and teeth. It is therefore possible to determine, for example, whether or not an extinct animal ate meat or was strictly vegetarian. Isotopic ratios from the Gilbert Mastodon reveal that this animal ate more than just grass - this animal was a browser, eating spruce twigs and other vegetable matter. There are those that speculate that Cornell's Gilbert Mastodon was possibly a scavenger (a case made stronger by the serated teeth of the mastodon, as well as soem of the isotopic numbers from the teeth), but this is, at this point, still purely speculative.

Click a category below to find out how research is progressing in that area:

Click here for information on research associated with the Hyde Park Mastodon
Click here to go to the Cornell Gilbert Mastodon General information page

Back to the Mastodon Project Main Page


The Paleontological Research Institution
1259 Trumansburg Road
Ithaca, NY 14850 phone: 607-273-6623 fax: 607-273-6620
Questions about the Website? Tell us!