The diminishing populations of African and Asian elephants call to mind the extinctions of other elephantlike species, such as mammoths and mastodonts, that occurred more than 10,000 years ago. The purpose of this book is to examine the ecology and behavior of modern elephants to create models for reconstructing the lives and deaths of extinct mammoths and mastodonts. The sources for these models are long-term continuing studies of elephants in Zimbabwe, Africa. These models are clearly described with respect to the anatomical, behavioral, and ecological similarities between past and present proboscideans. The implications of these similarities for the lives and deaths of mammoths and mastodonts are explored in detail.
The importance of this book is primarily its unifying perspective on living and extinct probiscideans: The fossil record is as carefully examined as is the natural history of surviving elephants. Dr. Haynes's studies of the situations in which African elephants die (sometimes in great numbers) are unique and can provide crucial insights into ancient probiscidean bone collections.