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Ice Age surprise: Ancient mammoth tusk discovered at Seattle construction site

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An animal who starred in a popular family film - and was last seen on earth 10,000 years ago - has re-emerged at a Seattle construction site. On Tuesday, Feb. 11, KOMO 4 News reported that an ancient mammoth tusk was discovered yesterday at a South Lake Union construction site.

According to Seattle's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the construction workers uncovered a mammoth tusk that appears to be from the Ice Age.

Transit Plumbing employee Joe Wells was one of the first people to see the tusk pushing out of the earth.

"We were like, 'So, what do we do here?' You don't want to damage it or just continue on and tear it out of the ground," he stated.

It remains to be seen what the property owner will do with the mammoth tusk.

"Because the fossil is on private property and does not seem to be associated with an archaeological site, it is up to the landowner to decide what they would like to do with the tusk," stated Dr. Christian Sidor of the Burke Museum Tuesday news release issued on Tuesday.

According to Sidor, the discovery offers a "rare opportunity to directly study Seattle's ancient natural history."

"Mammoth" refers to any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, animals which had long, curved tusks. Mammoths lived from the Pliocene epoch (around 5 million years ago) into the Holocene at about 4,500 years ago in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Mammoths were members of the family Elephantidae, which includes two genera of modern elephants and their ancestors.

According to the Burke Museum, mammoths became extinct as glaciers receded at the end of the Ice Ages between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago.

The Burke Museum, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010, has vast collections of artifacts and has garnered worldwide recognition as a museum of natural history and culture. Learn more about the museum here.

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