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Transit Plumbing Inc employee Joe Wells found the mammoth tusk Tuesday while excavating on a project in South Lake Union (Photo: Transit Plumbing Inc)

Mammoth tusk discovered in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood

Paleontologists at the Burke Museum in Seattle confirm a fossil discovered at a construction site in the South Lake Union neighborhood is a tusk belonging to an ice age mammoth.

Joe Wells, an employee at Transit Plumbing Inc, was excavating on a project at 528 Pontius Ave N. on Tuesday when he found the tusk.

Dr. Christian Sidor, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, said it's up to the land owner to decide what to do with the fossil since it was not discovered at an archeological site.

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

Sidor added that the museum is happy to excavate and curate the tusk so that it can be studied.

The museum said mastodons and mammoths lived in the area at one time, but became extinct as glaciers receded at the end of the Ice Ages, between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago.

A mammoth's tusks are long, curve downward from the face and back up while a mastodon's tusks are long, but are relatively straight.


Stephanie Klein, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Stephanie joined the MyNorthwest.com team in February 2008. She has built the site into a two-time National Edward R. Murrow Award winner (Best Radio Website 2010, 2012).
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