Construction Worker Discovers 'Once-In-A-Lifetime' Giant Woolly Mammoth Tooth

Emily Brown

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Construction Worker Discovers 'Once-In-A-Lifetime' Giant Woolly Mammoth Tooth

Featured Image Credit: DGR Engineering

A construction worker's discovery of a woolly mammoth tooth has been described as a 'lucky find' after he found it while at work on a project in Iowa.

Justin Blauwet, who works for DGR Engineering, is a self-described 'nerd' who has always been interested in fossils and pre-historic animals, with his interest only growing as his two young sons discovered a love for dinosaurs.

It was this interest him that allowed him to recognise the unusual find earlier this month while at a construction site on property owned by Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) in Sheldon, Iowa.

As he was performing construction observation on a lift station project, Blauwet saw the woolly mammoth tooth simply lying on the ground after having been exposed during excavation of the site.

The tooth measures 11 inches by 7 inches by 4 inches, and weighs 11.2 pounds.

Following the discovery, DGR staff contacted Tiffany Adrain, Paleontology Repository Instructor at the University of Iowa, for confirmation of what Blauwet had found and for assistance on the proper reporting protocols. However, a press release from DGR says it was determined that since the construction project was locally funded, the City of Sheldon had no obligation to report the find.

Adrian described the discovery of the tooth as 'lucky' as she noted that 'while discovery of mammoth remains is not uncommon in Iowa, once the bones and teeth are out in the open, they can fall apart and disappear quickly because they are not completely fossilised.'

Justin Blauwet discovers woolly mammoth tooth. Credit: DGR Engineering
Justin Blauwet discovers woolly mammoth tooth. Credit: DGR Engineering

Chris Widga, Head Curator at East Tennessee State University, confirmed the tooth was 'an upper third molar, probably a right'.

"Based on the degree of wear, this animal was probably in its early 30s when it died," Widga added.

The tooth had likely been preserved in the ground since the last glacial maximum, which is suspected to be over 20,000 years ago.

Public Works Director Todd Uhl and City Manager Sam Kooiker have suggested NCC offer the tooth to the Sheldon Prairie Museum for display, with the college's president saying the discovery 'ties our campus property way back to the prehistoric era of the retreating glaciers.'

Stuffed woolly mammoth (Alamy)
Stuffed woolly mammoth (Alamy)

"Since NCC is the public college for all of its communities, we are happy to display the tooth in the Sheldon Prairie Museum as a semi-permanently loaned display. This way, everyone from across our service area can come to the museum to see and appreciate this artefact. We might display it at the College for special occasions, but we will house the artefact in the Sheldon Prairie Museum," he explained.

Now that it has been exposed, measures are being taken to protect the mammoth tooth from drying out and possibly disintegrating.

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Topics: News, Animals, Science, US News, Life

Emily Brown
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