Platybelodon (“flat spear tusk”) was a genus of large herbivorous mammals associated with an elephant (Proboscis order). He lived during the Middle Miocene in Africa, Asia, and the Caucasus.
Platybelodon: Description of the Species, Size
Name: Platybelodon (Greek for “flat tusk”);
Habitat: Swamps, lakes, and rivers of Africa and Eurasia
Historical era: Late Miocene (10 million years ago)
Size and weight: About 3 meters long and 2-3 tons
Diet: plants (herbivores)
Distinguishing characteristics: Flat, scapular, connected canines on the lower jaw.
Platybelodon: Size, Nutrition
Platibelodons fed in swampy areas of grassy savannas. However, they sometimes used their lower tusks to separate the bark from the trees. In particular, adult animals were able to eat coarser vegetation more often than juveniles.
Platibelodon was approximately 10 feet long, 9 feet high, and weighed about 2 tons. Not as big as modern elephants, but not very small either. It would be as long and heavy as a rhino, but much taller. Its height would correspond to today’s Asian elephants.
Used its flattened lower tusks to dig out damp vegetation along the flooded plains, lake beds, and riverbanks of the Late Miocene of Africa and Eurasia about 10 million years ago.
It turns out that Platibelodon’s double lower tusk was much denser and stronger than was required for this simple task; an alternative theory is that this elephant grabbed the branches of the trees with its trunk and then swung its massive head back and forth to mow tough plants below or to remove and eat the bark from the trees.