Elephants once roamed Florida—and scientists just stumbled on a graveyard full of them

Friday, June 2, 2023 - 07:13 in Paleontology & Archaeology

The adult gomphothere skull (foreground, tusk capped in white plaster) was separated from the main body (background, covered in plaster) prior to its preservation. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum Today, elephants roam the savannas of Africa and rainforests in Asia, but elephant ancestors once lived in Europe and North America before going extinct like the region’s other ancient megafauna. Scientists and a team of volunteers recently uncovered a prehistoric elephant graveyard in northern Florida near Gainesville.  [Related: Elephants and humans share surprising similarities. A new docuseries dives deep into that relationship.] Roughly five and a half million years ago, several extinct relatives of elephants called gomphotheres died in or near a now dried up river. Today,  their fossils are giving scientists a unique view into prehistoric Florida.   “This is a once-in-a-lifetime find,” curator of vertebrate paleontology...

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