Construction Workers Unearth Wooly Mammoth Tusk In Downtown Seattle
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."
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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!
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