JAnnifer Schuh from California, USA, was walking on the beach last Friday when she found the tooth of a mastodon that has been extinct for more than 10,000 years. Despite the extremely rare discovery, the woman did not immediately recognize its significance.
The discovery took place at the mouth of Aptos Creek on the Rio Del Mar State Beach, located in Monterey Bay. Jennifer Schuh was talking to a man near a creek running along the beach when she found a 30-centimeter tooth sticking out of the sand.
“I was on one side of the creek and this girl was talking to me on the other side and she said, ‘What’s under your feet,'” Jennifer was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “It felt kind of weird, almost burning,” he recalls.
Not knowing what she actually found, the woman left the tooth on the beach and decided to ask for help by sharing some photos on the social network Facebook.
That’s when Wayne Thompson, paleontology collections consultant at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, gave him the answer, explaining that the molar in question was an extinct adult Pacific mastodon similar to an elephant.
“This is a very important discovery,” wrote Wayne Thompson, who asked the woman to contact him.
But when the two returned to the beach, the tooth was knocked out.
The consultant then decided to ask for help in finding the artifact, and his appeal was reported in the press.
On Tuesday, Jim Smith from Optos called the museum. The man stumbled upon the tooth while jogging on the beach and didn’t know what he had found until he saw a picture of the artifact on the news.
Jim Smith donated the tooth to the museum, where it will be on display.
The age of the tooth is unclear. “We can confidently say that this specimen is less than 1 million years old, which is relatively new by fossil standards,” the museum’s Liz Broughton said in an email to The Associated Press.
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