M u s e u m  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

New Brunswick: Too Cool!


New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, New Brunswick

Hillsborough Mastodon

Dr. Randall Miller Research Curator, Geology and Palaeontology New Brunswick Museum

New Brunswick Museum
Hillsborough, New Brunswick, CANADA

© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Bones of the Hillsborough mastodon were found in 1936 just outside the village of Hillsborough. They were found near a pond on the property of Conrad Osman. One of the first scientists on the scene was William McIntosh. McIntosh was Curator of the Natural Science Department at the New Brunswick Museum. He identified the bones as an American Mastodon, an elephant like animal that lived in North America until the end of the most recent Ice Age.

This is one of the best-preserved mastodon skeletons in Canada, with about half of the animal recovered, including the characteristic teeth. It was probably a young adult, maybe 15 to 18 years old and it weighed about 8 tonnes.

The animal may have become trapped in a bog leading to its death. One of the unique features of the Hillsborough mastodon are the dung balls found with it. Analysis of these coprolites has determined what kind of plants it was eating during its last days.

Another interesting study looked at the foot bones of the skeleton. Destruction of the bone indicates that our mastodon suffered from tuberculosis, a disease fairly common among these large animals.

Learning Object Collection: Magnificent Rocks
Learning Object: New Brunswick: Too Cool!
Institution: New Brunswick Museum