One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large fossil skeleton (or composite of more than one skeleton) found in Missouri around 1839, originally claimed to be a new species but later identified as a mastodon (Mammut americanus).
Mid 19th century. From scientific Latin Missourium from the name of the U.S. state of Missouri, where the fossil skeleton was discovered + classical Latin -um, neuter ending.
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