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Mislabeling

March 17, 1988

An elephantine blunder was committed in the science briefs (Metro, March 7) when mammoths and mastodons were mislabeled "extinct elephants."

African and Indian elephants are subsumed under the genus elephantidae . Although mammoths and mastodons are elephant-like mammals, they are of a different genus, mammuthus and mammut , respectively.

These eoelephants (dawn elephants) were the precursors of today's tusker--but an elephant can't be considered extinct before it evolves.

I hope your staff writers are not too thick-skinned to take kindly to gentle criticism.

VICTOR STEELE

Los Angeles

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