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 analyzing 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, or what sorts of vegetation and herbivore ate. 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.