Construction workers digging in a private lot in South Lake Union, Seattle, have discovered the fossil of a mammoth tusk.
The workers who found the tusk were working on a construction project at 528 Pontius Ave in the Seattle neighborhood where the discovery was made. When the workers found the fossil, they immediately notified the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.
Mammoths are an extinct genus from the Elephantidae family that died out during the last glacial retreat. While it is believed that mammoths died out due to drastic changes in climate during the end of the last Ice Age, scientists also think that the spread of human hunters in North America during the time also contributed to the decline in mammoth populations. However, scientists are still uncertain as to which of these factors was the primary driving force behind the extinction of the mammoth.
These massive creatures roamed around the Washington area more than 10,000 years ago. Several mammoth fossils have also been found in the western part of Washington throughout the years.
"The discovery of a mammoth tusk in South Lake Union is a rare opportunity to directly study Seattle's ancient natural history," said Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, Christian Sidor, in a statement to a local news site. "As a public repository, the Burke Museum would be pleased curate the tusk and provide access to scientists and others wishing to study it."
Scientists from the museum have identified the South Lake Union fossil as a genuine mammoth tusk dating back to the last Ice Age.
"Burke Museum paleontologists have examined the fossil and we are confident that it represents a tusk from an ice age mammoth," Sidor said. "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."
The scientists from the Burke Museum have also stated that they are interested in excavating the tusk. However, they will need to wait for the approval of the owners of the property where the tusk was found. Since the fossil was found inside a private lot, the owner of the property has the authority to decide what to do with the valuable find. However, scientists are excited about the discovery, which could be used to study more about the ancient natural history of the Seattle region.