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Mastodons (Greek: μαστός "breast" and ὀδούς, "tooth") are an
extinct group of mammal species related to elephants, that inhabited
North and Central America during the late Miocene or late Pliocene
up to their extinction at the end of the Pleistocene 12,000 years ago.
Their genus name is Mammut, and they are
members of the order Proboscidea. They lived in herds and were
predominantly forest dwelling animals that fed on a mixed diet of
browsing and grazing with a seasonal preference for browsing, in
contrast to living elephants that are mostly grazing animals.
The American mastodon is the most recent and best-known species of the genus. They disappeared from North America as part of a mass extinction of most of the Pleistocene megafauna, widely presumed to have been a result of rapid climate change in North America, as well as the sophistication of stone tool weaponry used by the Clovis Hunters which may have caused a gradual attrition of the mastodon population.