Shovel-tuskers were among the largest proboscideans (related to elephants) to live in North America. Paleontologists once believed they used their huge shovel-shaped jaws and tusks to scoop up aquatic plants, but Museum research suggests multiple purposes, including digging soil and scraping bark off trees.
Among the many types of extinct elephant relatives we find in Florida, the shovel-tuskers are perhaps the most bizarre. They have these huge lower tusks that appear to resemble shovels, however analysis by Florida researchers has determined that they used these lower tusks for many purposes, including digging and scratching bark off of trees. This specimen, along with one other jaw, was found in Marion County during the construction of a racetrack for thoroughbred horses. This particular species, Amebelodon britti, is the largest-known land animal to have ever lived in Florida.
Collection Manager, Vertebrate Paleontology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Britt’s Shovel-tusker (Amebelodon britti)
From Marion Co., Florida
Lived ~6 million years ago