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Temporal range: Miocene–Pliocene
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Proboscidea
Family: Gomphotheriidae
Genus: Rhynchotherium
Falconer, 1868
Type species
Rhynchotherium falconeri
Osborn, 1923
  • R. browni
  • R. edensis
  • R. falconeri
  • R. paredensis
  • R. simpsoni

Rhynchotherium is an extinct genus of proboscidea endemic to North America and Central America during the Miocene through Pliocene from 13.650 to 3.6 Ma, living for approximately 10 million years.[1]

This gomphothere had two tusks and may have evolved from Gomphotherium.[2]


Rhynchotherium was first described in 1868 on the basis of a lower jaw from the Miocene of Tlaxcala, Mexico.[3] Later, the type species epithet R. tlascalae was erected for the jaw by Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1918. In 1921, a gomphothere skull from the Mt. Eden area of southern California was described as a subspecies of Trilophodon shepardi (a now-defunct combination for Mastodon shepardi), T. s. edensis,[4] but was subsequently reassigned to Rhynchotherium.[5] Other species subsequently assigned to Rhynchotherium included R. falconeri,[6] R. paredensis, R. browni,[7] and R. simpsoni.[8] It was the closest relative to Cuvieronius, and may be ancestral to it.[9]

Lucas and Morgan (2008) reviewed the taxonomy of Rhynchotherium and concluded that only R. edensis, R. falconeri, R. paredensis, R. browni, and R. simpsoni could be confidently referred to Rhynchotherium.[10] Because the genotype of Rhynchotherium is referable to Gomphotherium, the ICZN was petitioned to conserve the genus by designating R. falconeri as the type species,[11] which it did.[12]

Life restoration of Rhynchotherium falconeri, a North American species of the genus.

Misassigned species[edit]

  • Mastodon shepardi Leidy, 1871
  • Mastodon euhypodon Cope, 1884 - likely a species of Gomphotherium[10]
  • Tetrabelodon brevidens Cope, 1889
  • Dibelodon praecursor Cope, 1893
  • Rhynchotherium rectidens Osborn, 1923
  • Aybelodon hondurensis Frick, 1933
  • Blickotherium blicki Frick, 1933
  • Rhynchotherium anguirivale Osborn, 1936

Phylogenetic position according to Mothé et al. (2016)[9]

Gomphotheriidae (Gomphotheres)




Brevirostrine clade







  1. ^ Paleobiology database: Rhynchotherium basic info
  2. ^ Arroyo-Cabrales, J.; Polaco, O. J.; Laurito, C.; Johnson, E.; Alberdi, M. T.; Zamora, A. L. V. (2007). "The proboscideans (Mammalia) from Mesoamerica". Quaternary International. Elsevier. 169–170: 17–23. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2006.12.017.
  3. ^ FALCONER, H. (1868): Paleontological Memoirs. Volume II: 74 –75; London (Hardwicke).
  4. ^ C. Frick. 1921. Extinct vertebrate faunas of the badlands of Bautista Creek and San Timoteo Canyon, southern California. University of California Publications in Geology 12(5):277-424
  5. ^ FRICK, C. (1933): New Remains of Trilophodont-Tetralophodont mastodons. – Bulletin American Museum of Natural History, 59: 505 – 652.
  6. ^ OSBORN, H. F. (1923): New subfamily, generic and specific stages in the evolution of the proboscidea. – American Museum Novitates, 99: 1– 4.
  7. ^ OSBORN, H. F. (1936): Proboscidea: a monograph of the discovery, evolution, migration, and extinction of the mastodonts and elephants of the world, vol. 1: Moeritherioidea, Deinotherioidea, Mastodontoidea. New York (The American Museum Press).
  8. ^ OLSEN, S. J. (1957): A new beak-jawed mastodont from Florida. – Journal of the Palaeontological Society of India, 2: 131–135.
  9. ^ a b Mothé, Dimila; Ferretti, Marco P.; Avilla, Leonardo S. (12 January 2016). "The Dance of Tusks: Rediscovery of Lower Incisors in the Pan-American Proboscidean Cuvieronius hyodon Revises Incisor Evolution in Elephantimorpha". PLOS ONE. 11 (1): e0147009. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147009. PMC 4710528. PMID 26756209.
  10. ^ a b LUCAS, S.G. & MORGAN, G.S., 2008. Taxonomy of Rhynchotherium (Mammalia, Proboscidea) from the Miocene-Pliocene of North America.- New Mex. Mus. Nat. Hist. Sci. Bull. 44: 71-87.
  11. ^ LUCAS, S. G. (2010): Rhynchotherium Falconer, 1868 (Mammalia; Proboscidea): proposed conservation of usage by designation of Rhynchotherium falconeri OSBORN, 1923 as the type species. – Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 67: 158 –162.
  12. ^ "OPINION 2295 (Case 3515) Rhynchotherium Falconer, 1868 (Mammalia; Proboscidea): usage conserved by designation of Rhynchotherium falconeri Osborn, 1923 as the type species". March 2012.