Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature Platybelodon Share Flipboard Email Print Animals & Nature Dinosaurs Prehistoric Mammals Basics Paleontologists Carnivores Dinosaurs & Birds Herbivores Marine Reptiles Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Marine Life Forestry Evolution View More By Bob Strauss Science Writer B.S., Cornell University Bob Strauss is a science writer and the author of several books, including "The Big Book of What, How and Why" and "A Field Guide to the Dinosaurs of North America." our editorial process Bob Strauss Updated January 09, 2020 Name: Platybelodon (Greek for "flat tusk"); pronounced PLAT-ee-BELL-oh-donHabitat: Swamps, lakes, and rivers of Africa and EurasiaHistorical Epoch: Late Miocene (10 million years ago)Size and Weight: About 10 feet long and 2-3 tonsDiet: PlantsDistinguishing Characteristics: Flat, shovel-shaped, joined tusks on lower jaw; possible prehensile trunk About Platybelodon As you may have guessed from its name, Platybelodon (Greek for "flat tusk") was a close relative of Amebelodon ("shovel-tusk"): both of these prehistoric elephants presumably used their flattened lower tusks to dig up the moist vegetation along the flooded plains, lakebeds and riverbanks of late Miocene Africa and Eurasia, about 10 million years ago. The main difference between the two was that Platybelodon's fused silverware was much more advanced than Amebelodon's, with a broad, concave, serrated surface that bore an uncanny resemblance to a modern spork; measuring about two or three feet long and a foot wide, it certainly gave this prehistoric proboscis a pronounced underbite. Recent scholarship has challenged the claim that Platybelodon wielded its lower tusk like a spork, digging this appendage deep into the muck and dredging up hundreds of pounds of vegetation. It turns out that Platybelodon's double lower tusk was much more densely and robustly built than would have been required for this simple task; an alternative theory is that this elephant grasped the branches of trees with its trunk, then swung its massive head back and forth to scythe down the tough plants underneath, or eve strip and eat bark. You can thank Henry Fairfield Osborn, the one-time director of the American Museum of Natural History, for the trunkless dredging scenario, which he popularized in the 1930s.