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Mammoth tusk discovery jolting reminder of extinctions caused by extreme climate

Wholy mammoth
Wholy mammoth

A construction worker came across a special discovery on Tuesday as he dug through sediment on a construction site near South Lake Union in Seattle.

Working on a job for a private property owner at 528 Pontius Ave., journeyman plumber Joe Wells with Transit Plumbing found the brownish-yellow bone. It was massive and he knew it must be a pre-historic relic.

"I noticed something different," said Wells, "Didn't take long for us to figure out it was a tusk. I've dug a lot of ditches and seen bottles and other weird stuff. Never anything like this."

Paleontologists estimate the tusk to be around 10,000 to 11,000 years old. It was found after the crew used excavation equipment to dig several dozen feet down in ancient sediment that was perfect for preserving the tusk.

"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. “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.”

Mammoth remains are discovered occasionally across the country.

Remains of a 10-ton mammoth were unearthed last October in Enid, Okla., by workers installing a gas line. Those ancient bones were taken to the lab for study and preservation at the Oklahoma State University.

Mammoths, made most famous by the Ice Age movie franchise featuring voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah and Denis Leary, are bigger than mastodons, with some standing 12 feet high.

They are also more closely related to elephants, but mammoths and mastodons both roamed regions from North America and Asia to Siberia as far back as 2 million years ago. They all died out as glaciers melted and receded during the end of Ice Ages between 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, according to a King5 report.

The discovery serves as a jolting reminder of how extreme weather changes can eventually wipe out entire species.

The fate of the mammoth tusk found on Tuesday will be up to the private property owner.

To see video of tusk find click here.

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