A gomphothere is a four-tusked relative of mastodons which are in turn distantly related to modern elephants. Unlike elephants and mastodons, who have two curved upper tusks, the gomphothere had four straight tusks, two upper, and two lower. Added to these differences, it had a longer jaw than mastodons.
This specimen was found on a Sierra College field trip in west central Nevada in 1987. It is about 10 million years old.
It lived during a time prior to the present Sierra Nevada mountains, so rains were able to reach the region making it a much lusher environment. The area was much like parts of Africa today. Horses, camels, beaver, sabertooth cats, dog-bears and rhinoceros shared the ecosystem with the gomphothere. Fossil plants found with it include oaks, palms and water chestnuts.
The display has been moved into Room 110, the Ray Underhill Room. A new painting representing life in Nevada 10 million years ago is above the case.