SEATTLE (AP) — A fossilized mammoth tusk discovered in a Seattle construction site was retrieved Friday evening from a 30-foot-deep pit to the sound of cheers and clicking from people taking pictures.
Scientists and construction crews used a crane to retrieve and hoist the tusk, which was placed on a pallet, encased in plaster and covered in blankets, to a waiting flat-bed truck. The tusk headed to its new home a few miles away at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on the University of Washington's Seattle campus, where it will be preserved, studied and eventually put on display.
The tusk, believed to be of a Columbian mammoth, was measured at 8.5-feet long after it was fully exposed overnight. It's between 20,000 and 60,000 years old and with the plaster encasing could weigh up to 500 pounds, said Christian Sidor, a paleontologist from the Burke Museum.
The tusk is water-logged, and scientists say properly restoring and preserving it could take at least a year.
Construction workers found the tusk Tuesday about 30 feet below street level, thinking at first that it might be a pipe or a root. The company building a 118-unit apartment complex at the site has nearly stopped construction to accommodate the scientists.
No more fossils were found during the overnight dig, the museum said Friday.
"Generally tusks like these are the last thing left" after animals and time remove the bones and the rest of the creature, Sidor said.