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Remains of Mastodon in Masonville-1871


Posted By: cheryl moonen (email)
Date: 12/12/2017 at 11:38:22

Dubuque Daily Times, Thursday, September 07, 1871, Dubuque, Iowa, Page: 3
The Masonville Mastodon

P. McIssac, Esq., in the last Waterloo Courier, gives the particulars of the finding of the remains of a mastodon in Masonville, in Delaware County. He says:

Six years ago, when returning to the East from Waterloo with my family, we were delayed in Manchester on account of a number of culverts being washed away on the Dubuque and Sioux City R. R., and hacks were run from Manchester to the vicinity of Masonville, so as to make connections west.

When we arrived at the place from which the western train would start, we were told by the Conductor that he would be obliged to wait here until another set of passengers from Dubuque arrived, which would be four or five hours.

While I was watching some men who were engaged in replacing a bridge which the freshet of a few days before had swept away, I walked down on a gravel bed that had been washed out by the flood, leaving one of those small prairie ponds which we see on almost every creek.

In sauntering over the gravel bed, I picked up what attracted my attention as a willow root, but which proved to be the atlas bone of the vertebrae of the Mastodon Giganteus. Looking around a little further, I found parts of the pelvis or tibia and part of the scapula, besides other fragments which I could not determine where to place.

The workmen told me that some section men had found a fragment of a tusk and several ribs at that same place. That they had placed two of the ribs on end, thus forming an arch which the tallest men walking under without stopping. But as these men were unacquainted with the science of Paleontology, and, had never heard of pre-Adamite creation, they smashed the ribs on a railroad tie, to find out, as they said, whether they were wood or bone.

At that time I was satisfied that these immense bones belonged to a mastodon, from the form of the tusk; but not being able to find any teeth; I could not establish true belief.

Recently more remains of the same animal have been found near Masonville by Victor Reed, and were exhibited by him in Waterloo this week. Among the last specimens found, are the fourth molar and the sixth molar teeth of the upper jaw. Both are magnificent specimens –the sixth molar measuring 6 ¼ inches in length by 5 ¼ in depth. The enamel of the teeth, from there long deposit in their maraby tomb, it as black as ebony and polished like a mirror.

The notched points of the fourth molar shows the peculiar dental structure of this immense probocidian (the name Mastodon being derived from the Greek, and meaning nipple tooth)-tells the tale of how the creature lived – bending down the limbs of twigs of trees (for this was not always prairie country) with his huge tusks and nipple faced grinders crushing and masticating them like bark in a mill. The teeth of the Mammoth are and other proboscideans that lived during the past glacial period, are barred like the teeth of an ox or horse.


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