During a deep-sea expedition, led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, a very strange discovery was made off the coast of central California. They found what appeared to be an elephant tusk.

Researchers, including paleontologists at the U-M Museum of Paleontology, studied the tusk and came to another suprising conclusion. This tusk belonged to a Columbian mammoth. The icy cold and high pressure environment of the deep sea preserved the tusk.

“Finding a mammoth tusk deep in the Pacific Ocean is quite a surprise. This specimen’s deep-sea preservational environment is different from almost anything we have seen elsewhere,” said University of Michigan paleontologist Daniel Fisher, who specializes in the study of mammoths and mastodons.

A team of UMMP paleontologists will examine CT scans of the tusk. The other UMMP team members are Adam Rountrey, Michael Cherney, Ethan Shirley and Scott Beld.

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