Trivia

Extinct Animals The Mastodon Part 2

About the now extinct animal species the Mastodon, history, physical description, location and how the species died out.

ANIMALS GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

The Mastodon

On Dec. 25, 1801, the "Mammoth Room" of the museum opened its doors to the public, or at least to those individuals who were willing to pay 50 Cent to view "the LARGEST of terrestrial beings--the ninth wonder of the world!!!" The display was an overnight success, and the mastodon's popularity was strangely rewarded when "mammoth" became the most popular adjective of the day. A baker down the street from the museum advertised his "mammoth bread"; a "mammoth eater" in Washington, D.C., gobbled up 42 eggs in 10 min.; and the generous ladies of Cheshire, Mass., sent President Jefferson a "mammoth cheese" weighing 1,230 lb. In 1810 Peale retired and turned the museum over to his son Rubens, who in turn gave it to his half brother Titian in 1842. Realizing the museum business couldn't compete with show business, Titian sold the mastodon display to P. T. Barnum five years later. For 100 years, mastodonists believed the skeleton had been destroyed in a fire that occurred at Barnum's storage building in 1848. Then to everyone's surprise, the American Museum of Natural History received a letter from the Hesse State Museum in Darmstadt, West Germany, in 1954, requesting instructions for mounting a mastodon skeleton. It was Peale's skeleton, a little worse for wear after W.W. II. Barnum had turned a quick profit by selling it to King Louis Philippe of France, who abdicated and left the country before it was delivered. Somehow the bones made their way to London, where they stayed for a few years before being sold at a bargain rate to the German museum in 1854. It had taken the Germans 100 years to ask how to put them together.

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