Often called the "shovel-tusker," this extinct relative of modern elephants lived 25 million years ago, before the Ice Age. It may have used its huge, shovel-like lower jaw to dig into boggy bottoms and scoop up aquatic plants in the wet prairies where it lived.

Platybelodon, commonly known as a "shovel tusker," was a huge, plant-eating mammal that lived in herds about 25 million years ago.


Platybelodon was 20 ft (6 m) long, 9 ft (2.8 m) tall at the shoulder and weighed about 4.5 tons (4 tonnes).

Diet, Teeth and Tusks

Platybelodon was an herbivore (plant-eater) that ate leaves. Flat cheek teeth ground up the leaves. This elephant-like browser had a shovel-shaped, scoop-like lower jaw (mandible). This huge mouth had sharp teeth at the front edge; these teeth were likely used for cutting leaves to eat. It also had 2 small, forward and downward-pointing tusks toward the front of the upper jaw, probably used for defense against predators.


Platybelodon lived in wet parts of prairies and ate soft plants (including water plants).

When Platybelodon Lived

This prehistoric elephant lived during the middle to late Miocene (roughly 25 million years ago).


Platybelodon was an early mammal. Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Proboscidea, Suborder Elephantoidea (elephants), Family Gomphothere (closely related to Amebelodon), Genus Platybelodon.


Fossils of Platybelodon have been found in North America, eastern Europe, Africa, and northwestern China (these animals probably crossed via the Siberian land bridge between the continents of Asia and North America).