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Scientists Discover 1.1-Million-Year-Old Stegodon Tusk

First Posted: Feb 16, 2016 09:54 AM EST

Researchers have discovered a 1.1 million-year-old stegodon tusk in the province of Punjab in Pakistan, which is shedding new light on the animal's evolution. The discovery was made by researchers from the zoology department at the University of Punjab, according to a news release. The tusk is about 8 feet in length and 8 inches in diameter, which is largest that has ever been discovered in the country.

"This discovery adds to our knowledge about the evolution of the stegodon, particularly in this region. It also sheds light on what the environment was like at the time of the animal's life," Muhammad Akhtar, who led the expedition, said in a news release.

Stegodons are the distant cousins of modern elephants. Stegodon roamed the land masses around 11 million years ago, until the late Pleistocene period at the end of the last Ice Age, about 11,700 years ago.

Stegodons are famous for their long tusks, which are almost straight and their low-crowned teeth with peaked ridges. These features indicate that they were mixed feeders that dwelled in forested environments compared to high-crowned plated molars of mammoths and elephants, which allowed them to graze.

Researchers believe that stegodons originated in Africa and eventually began to migrate to Asia, where numerous fossil specimens have been discovered. Stegodons existed up until 1.2 million years ago, which coincides with the emergence of modern humans. However, it has difficult for researchers to determine whether they were hunted and wiped out by modern humans.  

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