It's hard to imagine an animal as large as a modern-day elephant roaming the plains of Iowa, but that is exactly what the Woolly Mammoth did thousands of years ago. Proof of their existence pops up from time to time in the form of fossils unearthed from the Iowa soil. A construction site in Iowa stumbled upon a rare piece of history earlier this month.

KIWA Radio reports that the discovery happened in Sheldon, Iowa. Justin Blauwet, an engineer for DGR Engineering made the discovery on a construction site owned by Northwest Iowa Community College. Officials say that on March 4th, Blauwet discovered what would later be confirmed to be a mammoth tooth while observing work on a lift station project for the city of Sheldon. The tooth was laying on the ground, clearly exposed, after some excavation work had been completed.

via KIWA Radio
via KIWA Radio

KIWA Radio reports that once the tooth was discovered, DGR staff contacted a paleontology instructor at the University of Iowa to confirm its identity and get proper instructions on how to collect the tooth. Once discovered and out in the open, bones and teeth can quickly fall apart as they are not fully fossilized. Measures were quickly taken to ensure the tooth is preserved.

Officials say that the tooth measures 11 by 7 by 4 inches and weighed just over 11 pounds. A mammoth expert from East Tennessee State University told KIWA Radio that the tooth is likely an upper third molar, probably a right. Based on the wear of the tooth, the mammoth is believed to have been around 30 years old when it died.


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