Woman Found Ice-Age Mastodon Tooth on California Beach

Woman Found Ice-Age Mastodon Tooth on California Beach
Liz Broughton, the Visitors Services Manager at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History holds the newly found mastodon tooth on May 31, 2023 (Ted Lin/The Epoch Times)
Puzhen Su
Over the Memorial Day weekend, a woman was taking a stroll at Rio Del Mar State Beach in Northern California when she found a mysterious object in the sand that turned out to be a tooth from an ancient mastodon. 
The foot-long tooth belonged to an adult member of the extinct Ice Age species. This object gives “local scientists their first evidence that a herd of mastodon likely roamed through this area during the Ice Ages,” according to a statement given to KRON 4 by Wayne Thompson, a paleontology collections advisor for the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.
After the discovery, Jennifer Schuh posted pictures of the tooth on social media on May 26 which attracted the attention of Thompson, a paleontology collections advisor for the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Thompson told NTD Television, sister media of The Epoch Times, he contacted Schuh and suggested they “take a look at this specimen.”
However, when Thompson and his team arrived at the beach, “the specimen was missing.” 
Thompson and his team’s attempts were fruitless. As a result, the museum put the word out to look for the mastodon tooth, with “local and international news outlets” helping to find and protect the important specimen, according to a May 30 press release by the museum. 
Coincidentally, Jim Smith, a jogger from Aptos, brought the tooth home and later donated it on Tuesday May 30th to the museum. He didn’t realize what it was until he saw it on the news.
“It was just a stroke of luck that the person who found it happened to be reading an article that was written about the tooth that everyone was looking for,” said Thompson, to NTD Television.
Marry Skocko, a beachgoer, praised Smith’s decision to donate the tooth in an interview with NTD Television.
“It was nice that somebody found it and gave it back because they could have kept it if they wanted to because they knew it was valuable,” Skocko said.

Ice Age Inhabitant

The tooth found belongs to a member of the Pacific Mastodon species, also known as Mammut pacificus, and it is estimated to be at least 5,000 years old according to Harvard University scientists that spoke with KRON 4.
Thompson says that discovery is “very important because it’s [in] the final throes of the last Ice Age, and it’s giving us a clear picture of what ancient Monterey Bay used to look like back at that time.”
This tooth is the third known mastodon remains from Santa Cruz County, after a skull and a tooth were discovered. The skull and tooth are displayed at the museum, while the newest remains won’t be on display quite yet.
“We are grateful that our community has rallied behind the search for the tooth so that we may help protect and share this significant specimen with the public,” said the museum’s Executive Director Felicia B. Van Stolk in the press release. 
The museum intends to care for the tooth and make it available for both scientific study and exhibition to the general public, according to the press release. 
Their website states that the museum is an independent, non-profit organization, according to its website, with a mission of connecting people with nature and science to inspire stewardship of the natural world.  
Puzhen is a reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he covers Northern California news.
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