from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several extinct proboscideans, of the family Gomphotheriidae, from North America

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. extinct elephants of Central American and South America; of the Miocene and Pleistocene


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • It seems clear that an elephant-like animal, a mastodon or gomphothere, extinct for 12,000 years, was the intended consumer of avocados.

    A Third Ghost

  • "This is the first kill site I've ever heard of in North America," said W. David Lambert, a gomphothere expert at the Louisiana School of Science, Mathematics and Arts. "That's a pretty important discovery." | news

  • The gomphothere was likely hunted by the Clovis people.

    Signs of the Times


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  • The avocado tree (Persea americana) is known only as a cultivated species. Sometime in the thousands of years since domestication, its wild ancestor disappeared from the forests of Central America. One theory suggests that many large-fruited neo-tropical trees faded away following the loss of their seed dispersers: giant armadillos, glyptodonts, mammoths, gomphotheres, and other extinct megafauna (Janzen and Martin 1982). With its massive seed, the wild avocado would certainly have required the services of a large-bodied animal to move it around.
    Thor Hanson, The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History (New York: Basic Books, 2015), endnote accompanying ch. 1, p. 10.
    Many botanists include manzanillo on the list of plants possibly dispersed by gomphotheres or some other long-extinct megafauna.
    Id., endnote accompanying ch. 12, p. 185.

    January 30, 2016

  • "...they pointed out that proboscideans—mammoths, mastodons, and early elephant relatives called gomphotheres—flourished in the Americas until they all died out by the end of the Pleistocene."

    —Richard Stone, Mammoth: The Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Publishing, 2001), 182

    September 22, 2008