A male mastodon suffered a brutal injury before he died 13,200 years ago

A mounted skeleton of the Buesching mastodon, based on casts of individual bones produced in fiberglass, is displayed at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor. Photo by Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography.

(CNN)A male mastodon died fighting with a rival during mating season about 13,200 years ago in what is now northeast Indiana. Now, his well-preserved fossil and tusks reveal not only how the 8-ton adult died, but also where he trekked across North America.

The mastodon's fossil was first found on a farm in 1998 by Kent and Janne Buesching, who were mining for peat on their property. Archaeologists then excavated the Buesching mastodon's remains. His skeleton, which is 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and 25 feet (7.6 meters) long, has been studied since 2006.
The Buesching mastodon is a nearly complete skeleton of an 8-ton male adult. Photo by Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography.
A closer look at the mastodon's skull showed he was killed when the tusk tip of another male mastodon punctured the right side of his skull. He died about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away from his home territory, according to a new study that was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    "The result that is unique to this study is that for the first time, we've been able to document the annual overland migration of an individual from an extinct species," said first study author Joshua Miller, paleoecologist and assistant research professor of geology at the University of Cincinnati, in a statement.

      Tracing mastodon migration

      Northeast Indiana served as a summer mating ground for the mastodons, and the study found that this solitary creature annually migrated north from his home during the winter months the last three years of his life. The ancient animal was around 34 when he died, the researchers estimated.
      "Using new modeling techniques and a powerful geochemical toolkit, we've been able to show that large male mastodons like Buesching migrated every year to the mating grounds," Miller said.
        Daniel Fisher, co-leader of the study, helped excavate the mastodon 24 years ago. He is a professor of paleontology at the University of Michigan, and director of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology.
        Fisher cut a long, thin section from the center of the 9.5-foot-long (3-meter-long) right tusk. Like studying tree rings, analysis of the mastodon's tusk revealed how he interacted with his landscape as an adolescent as well as during the last years of his life.
        University of Michigan paleontologist Daniel Fisher stands with a mounted skeleton of the Buesching mastodon. Photo by Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography.