Construction Workers Unearth Wooly Mammoth Tusk In Downtown Seattle

By Josh Lieberman on February 12, 2014 7:11 PM EST

wooly mammoth
A wooly mammoth tusk was found by construction workers in the busy South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, Wash. (Photo: Mauricio Antón)

A construction crew digging in the busy South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle, Wash., has unearthed a wooly mammoth tusk. The tusk was discovered about 40 feet below ground level, according to Jeff Estep, the president of the subcontracting company that made the find. "They hit something hard, uncovered it and saw it was long and a weird shape," said Estep. "They kept uncovering it by hand and realized it was a tusk."

Like Us on Facebook

"Burke Museum paleontologists have examined the fossil and we are confident that it represents a tusk from an ice age mammoth," said Christian Sidor, the museum's curator of vertebrate paleontology.

The mammoth tusk was found on private property, so it's up to the landowner to decide what to do with it. Paleontologists at the Burke Museum hope to receive the mammoth tusk and put it on display.

"They are very rare," said Sidor. "It will be an exciting fossil to get back to the museum." The museum is seeking approval from the landowner to excavate the site, which may yield more fossils. "When you start digging, you never know," Sidor said.

Mammoth tusks and teeth have been found in Washington before, most recently in 2010. The Washington state fossil is in fact the Columbian mammoth. (Did you know states had official fossils? Find your state's here.) 

Wooly mammoths were about the size of African elephants, with distinctive curved tusks that could reach up to 15 feet in length. Dining on grass and sedges, the creatures roamed the earth from about three million years ago until 10,000 years ago. (A small pocket of mammoths were able to hang around on Wrangel Island, in the Artctic Ocean, until about 4,000 years ago.) Scientists believe that the wooly mammoth went extinct due to climate change, hunting by humans or a combination of the two things; one controversial theory holds that a comet wiped them out. Whatever the case, wooly mammoths may make a comeback one day: in 2013, the discovery of possible liquid mammoth blood led scientists to wonder whether woolies could be cloned and brought back. What a world! 

READ MORE:

Woolly Mammoth: Watch 'Yuka' Get Displayed In Japan After 39,000 Years Trapped In Ice [VIDEO]

Urban Bees Repurpose Plastic Bags And Sealants To Build Their Hives

Crocodiles Climb Trees To Bask In The Sun, Keep An Eye On Prey And Predators

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)