On June 12th, paleobiologist/paleoecologist Mark Lawler presented “Ice Age Giants — An Elephant’s Tale: The Discovery of the World’s First Mastodon and American Patriotism” at the chapter’s Flag Day meeting, to members and the public. He generously has shared his slides, which can be accessed here.
The first evidence of a mastodon was a single tooth which was discovered in Claverack in 1705. It was identified as the “tooth of a giant.”
Lawyer calls the Hudson River Valley “the mastodon capital of the world.” Quoting from his book The Giant’s Tooth: Social and Scientific Implications of the Discovery of the World’s First Mastodon (Mamut americanum), he says:
“The mastodon is a powerful symbol of nationalistic pride and unity. Its story is as much a part of this country’s history as any other, more well-known events, people, documents, etc. that all helped to lead to the unification of its citizens against tyranny and repression; the American mastodon was beside us the entire time.”