Construction crews uncover tusk of Ice Age mammoth in Seattle

Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:22pm EST
 
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By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Construction workers digging in a Seattle neighborhood have found the curved tusk of a mammoth, an ancient elephant relative that inhabited North America at least 10,000 years ago during the Ice Age.

Seattle's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture said its paleontologists were confident that the fossil, uncovered on Tuesday, came from an Ice Age mammoth.

"The discovery of a mammoth tusk in South Lake Union is a rare opportunity to directly study Seattle's ancient natural history," said museum curator Christian Sidor.

Crews were excavating for plumbing trenches in the city's bustling South Lake Union neighborhood when they found the tusk about 40 feet beneath ground level, said Jeff Estep, president of Transit Plumbing Inc, the subcontracting company involved in the dig.

An apartment building is slated to be built on the site where the discovery was made, Estep said.

"They hit something hard, uncovered it and saw it was long and a weird shape," Estep said. "They kept uncovering it by hand and realized it was a tusk."

The fossil was found on private property and likely not associated with an archaeological site, leaving it up to the landowner to decide what to do with the finding, according to the museum.

"If it went onto someone's mantle piece it would be a little bit of a loss for the community," Sidor said. "Our hope is the fossil will be donated to a public depository like a museum."   Continued...