Click here to skip to the content

Hillsborough Mastodon

Evidence of the ice age can be found all over New Brunswick, however the ice age fossils tell some of the most interesting stories. One of the best-known ice age fossils in New Brunswick is the “Hillsborough Mastodon”. Now extinct, mastodons were large animals that looked like hairy elephants. More than 60 mastodon specimens have been discovered across Canada but the Hillsborough mastodon is considered to be one of the most remarkable. It was discovered in 1936 by workers repairing a dam on the property of Conrad Osman at Hillsborough, New Brunswick. The animal likely became mired in a swamp during a warm interval of the last interglacial period, about 80,000 years ago. The animal was a young adult, perhaps 15 to 18 years old at death. It is estimated to have weighed about 8.3 tonnes.

View transcript (Adobe Flash Player, 1 minute 29 seconds, 4.7 MB)

For best viewing of this site, you will need the plugin: Adobe Flash Player

Mastodons once roamed the boreal forests of North America. The last of their kind became extinct about 10,000 years ago. Only a few mastodon fossils have been found in the Maritimes. Mastodons and mammoths are easy to tell apart based on their teeth. Mammoth teeth have flat ridges, like a modern elephant. Mastodon teeth have rounded or pointed cusps. The name mastodon comes from the teeth, derived from the Greek words "mastos" meaning breast and odont for tooth.