Fossil Friday – Proboscidean tusk

While the Diamond Valley Lake Project lasted for several years, it was still essentially a salvage operation. As a result, many of the larger specimens have only been partially prepared. Our staff and volunteers are gradually working through the backlog.

For the last few months our volunteer Nathan has been reconstructing a shattered tusk, consisting of a tray with perhaps 300 fragments. His hard work is paying off, as a pretty nice tusk is beginning to take shape. More than half of recovered fragments have been reattached so far. 

We’re not sure yet if this tusk is from a mammoth or a mastodon, although I’m leaning toward the latter. Assuming it is mastodon, it’s either from an immature animal or from a female; adult male mastodons have massive tusks that are much larger than this. The tusk is worn at the tip, and there appears to be more than one wear facet. I’d like to say this indicates an older animal, but ivory is relatively soft and wears rapidly, so even a young animal can have substantial wear at the tip of the tusk.

The DVL mastodon collection is dominated by adult males, and we don’t have a lot of mammoths at any age, so this tusk represents a relatively rare part of the collection no matter what it ultimately turns out to be.

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