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Mammoth tusks recovered from an unlikely place: the ocean floor


Pilot Randy Prickett and scientist Steven Haddock, researchers with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), discovered a Colombian mammoth 185 miles offshore and 10,000 feet deep in the ocean in In 2019, the organization said in a news release.

At the time, they were only able to collect a small portion of the tusk, so they returned in July 2021 for a complete sample.

“You start to ‘expect the unexpected’ when exploring the deep sea, but I was still surprised when we discovered the ancient tusk of a mammoth,” Haddock said. “Our work examining this exciting discovery has only just begun, and we look forward to sharing more information in the future.”

University of Michigan paleontologist Daniel Fisher, who studies mammoths and mastodons, said it was unlike anything he had ever seen.

“Other mammoths have been retrieved from the ocean, but generally not from depths of more than a few dozen meters,” Fisher said.

Various research facilities are examining the tusk to determine a variety of information about it including the age of the animal at death, the statement said. The cold, high-pressure environment helped preserve the ivory, so it could be studied in more detail, the researchers said.

The science team watched eagerly as MBARI ROV pilot Randy Prickett steered the submersible toward the tusks.

Scientists believe it may be the oldest well-preserved mammoth ivory recovered from this part of North America, and the UCSC Geospatial Laboratory estimates it to be more than 100,000 years old after fragmentation. radioactive isotopes.

The researchers hope the data collected can not only tell them more about the mammoth species they found, but about the species in general.

“Specimens like these are a rare opportunity to paint a picture of both the animal that once lived and the environment in which it lived,” said Beth Shapiro, research lead at UCSC’s Paleogenomics Laboratory.

“Mammoth remains from the North American continent are exceptionally rare, and so we hope that the DNA from this tusk will go further to refine what we know about mammoths in the region.” this of the world.”

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