PHOTO: Hiker Unearths Ancient Mammoth Tooth in Texas Creek

by Lauren Boisvert

On Sept. 15, hiker Art Castillo noticed something in a creek next to the Cotton Belt Trail in Waco, Texas. What he pulled out of the water and sediment turned out to be a huge, ancient mammoth tooth. Castillo told KCEN that he walks that trail several times a week looking for interesting artifacts. Mostly he finds rocks and arrowheads. But, this time, he walked away with a piece of history.

Castillo posted his find on Facebook, explaining what he thought it was based on mammoth teeth he’d seen in museums. Several people shared his theory. To be sure, though, he took the treasure to the Waco Mammoth National Monument. There, they confirmed his theory.

According to experts, the tooth could be anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 years old. Instead of keeping or selling the artifact, Castillo decided to donate it to the Waco Mammoth National Monument, “for kids and visitors to see for many years to come,” he said. To those who urged him to sell it, Castillo said, “The happiness and joy this fossil will bring to visitors is more important to me than any dollar amount.”

Tooth in Texas, Calf in Canada: Mammoths Are Hiding Everywhere

Back in June, another mammoth find turned up, this time in Canada. Nun cho ga is the most intact mammoth calf ever found, and the first found in North America. Specifically, in the Klondike region of the Yukon in northwest Canada. A miner just happened to be working at the right place at the right time.

The miner contacted scientist Grant Zazula, “who put out a call to any geologists in the area to recover before it thawed,” professor Dan Shugar wrote on Twitter at the time. “We were incredibly lucky to be in Dawson with Jeff Bond & Derek Cronmiller from Yukon Geological Survey. Was a fast drive down 60km of mining roads.”

Professor Shugar was involved in the recovery of the mammoth calf, and posted the incredible find on social media. Nun cho ga is likely over 30,000 years old, and was found on Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation’s land.

Nun cho ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world,” said local paleontologist Grant Zazula to the BBC. He added that she is “the most complete mummified mammoth found in North America.”

The information and possible DNA samples from Nun cho ga could potentially help bioengineering companies like Dallas-based Colossal Biosciences bring back the wooly mammoth. They’ve already started research into bringing back the extinct Tasmania tiger. Why not the mammoth, too?