Teen Discovers Mastodon Tooth Over 10,000 Years Old in Missouri River

by Jon D. B.
(Photo credit: Jose CABEZAS/AFP via Getty Images)

An 18-year-old has made an astonishing find by discovering a mastodon tooth from the Ice Age while exploring the Missouri River.

Johnson spoke to FOX2now.com concerning his incredible discovery. The teen has been exploring since he was a toddler, and “shares a love of treasure hunting with his father”.

The young explorer, Ira Johnson, lives in Missouri. While walking along the Grand River, he came across what he thought was a “big rock”. Thinking it looked curious, he dislodged the large, shiny, object from the river and brought it home. In turn, his curiosity paid off 10,000-fold when the rock was identified as a fossilized mastodon tooth. 

“I usually find silver-plated spoons or just a bunch of junk really,” he told the news channel. “When I was in there looking and I walked over to the water’s edge and I saw the tooth and I didn’t really think much about it because it looked just like a normal rock.”

From there, however, Johnson brings the “rock” home to show his father. His father’s face, reportedly, then told the whole story. This was no rock at all.

Fossilized Mastodon Tooth is a “Phenomenal Find”

After taking the relic to local researchers, the treasure-hunting Johnsons now have details on Ira’s find. Researchers who analyzed the remains say it once belonged to an American mastodon that lived during the Pleistocene Epoch some 10,000 years ago.

The tooth, which is the size of an adult’s hand, is very large. So naturally – it belongs to a very large animal.

Painting of a prehistoric mastodon in forest lighting. (photo credit: Getty Images)

Mastodons were giant prehistoric relatives of today’s modern elephant. Towering over 12 foot tall, these huge beasts inhabited most of North America at one time. The humans of the time, known as Clovis Hunters, may have been the cause of the mastodon’s downfall. Experts believe these ancient relatives of modern humans over-hunted and over-exploited the mastodon species. Ultimately, they were driven to extinction after the last great Ice Age some 10,000 years ago.

If not for that, North America might still have its own elephants to this day.

[H/T FOX2now.com]