Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mammoth Tusk

Last week, a mammoth tusk was discovered by a construction crew in Seattle. They were digging 30 feet below street level when they encountered the tusk. The tusk was recovered, and sent to the Burke Museum to be restored and placed on display. It seems to me that nobody was sufficiently curious about where the rest of this mammoth is. They just dug it out, looked around a bit, and were done. You don’t just lose a giant tooth, and then walk away (or lumber away, as the case may be). Maybe this is where some sort of Prehistoric Tooth Fairy stored her booty. I’m thinking a Pterodactyl would probably have fit the bill nicely. I wonder what she would have left the little kid dinosaurs under their pillows? Maybe a nice root or leaf for the herbivores and something dead and disgusting for the carnivores? The estimated age of this giant tooth is between 22,000 and 60,000 years old. Hmmm... 22,000? Seems like a random number. Why not a nice round 20,000? I guess that extra 2,000 years must be important. They probably had to factor in Leap Year, the curvature of the Earth, and whether or not this happened on a Tuesday. According to the news story, this tusk was from a Columbian Mammoth. There have been so many of these mammoths found that they have been officially named as the State Fossil. Who knew states had official fossils? What happens if your state has no fossils? Wouldn’t you feel slighted, and want to get your shovel and toothbrush and go find one? I tried to find a dinosaur skeleton in my backyard when I was little. Utah has many, many dinosaur fossils and is home to Dinosaur National Monument (hello... “PeeWee’s Big Adventure”!). I was sure all I had to do was start digging and I’d hit a fossil or twelve. I did find some rocks with weird raised junk on them, and took them to school to show all the kids. Nobody was impressed, or thought my rocks were an important scientific find. I saw a story once about a town in England where some ancient Roman ruins were discovered. They gave the townspeople tools and instructions and let them go dig. No degrees, no experience, just a shovel and a handout. I could totally dig that (hee hee).

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