2014 readers choice results
Article posted: 2/14/2014 5:22 PM

BC-US--Tusk Found, 4th Ld-Writethru,396 Scientists prepare to lift tusk from Seattle pit AP Photo SE204, SE201, WAET107, WAET102, WAET103, SE203, SE202, WAET103

Bruce Crowley, paleontology lab manager at the Burke museum, uses an awl to move sediment from around a mammoth tusk early Friday.

Bruce Crowley, paleontology lab manager at the Burke museum, uses an awl to move sediment from around a mammoth tusk early Friday.

 

Associated Press/Burke Museum

 1 of 1 
 
text size: AAA
By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP

Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) -- Scientists on Friday partially encased a mammoth tusk in plaster as they prepared to extract it from the 30-foot-deep pit where it was found this week at a downtown Seattle construction site.

Advertisement

The tusk, believed to be of a Columbian mammoth, was measured at 8.5 feet long after researchers cleared enough dirt overnight to fully expose it.

Scientists with the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture plan to remove the tusk sometime Friday evening using a construction crane at the site. They'll move it onto a pallet and use the crane to lift the pallet from the pit.

The tusk is between 20,000 and 60,000 years old and with the plaster encasing could weigh up to 500 pounds, said Christian Sidor, a paleontologist from the Burke Museum.

Once it's out of the ground, researchers will transport the tusk just a few miles away to its permanent home at the museum, on the University of Washington's Seattle campus.

The fossil eventually will go on display there. However, it's water-logged, and scientists say properly restoring and preserving it could take at least a year.

Construction workers found the tusk Tuesday about 30 feet below street level, thinking at first that it might be a pipe or a root. The company building a 118-unit apartment complex at the site has nearly stopped construction to accommodate the scientists.

No more fossils were found during the overnight dig, the museum said Friday.

"Generally tusks like these are the last thing left" after animals and time remove the bones and the rest of the creature, Sidor said.

The tusk's fate was entirely up to the landowner, who decided to donate it to the Burke Museum. Costs of the delay aren't known yet, said Scott Koppelman of AMLI Residential, which also owns apartment complexes to the south and west of the construction site.

Fossilized mammoth remains have been found numerous times in the Seattle area and across the state, so much so that the Columbian mammoth is the state's official fossil.

Still, most of the Burke Museum's collection is fragments. The tusk found this week would be one of the largest and most intact specimens found.

The museum's collection has 25 mammoth fossils from King County, including a tooth that was found a few blocks away from the tusk when the Mercer Street on ramp to Interstate 5 was built years ago.

Comments ()
We are now using Facebook comments to offer a more inclusive, social and constructive discussion. Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.

This article filed under

Latest Video

MostViewed

Today
Yesterday
Most Commented
Top Jobs

    View all Top Jobs Place a job ad

    MarketsReport

    DHExtras

       
    • Newspaper next section - Newspaper next section Report card checker - report card checker
    • Dh innovation award 2 - Dh innovation award 2 Zillow /real estate page
    • Discuss refer On Guard series
    • Newspaper archives -- Monday or anyday Mike North

    FacebookActivity

    BusinessDirectory

    Connect with a business or service in your area fast. First select a town, then enter a search term or choose one of the listed popular searches:

    Don't see your town listed? Visit our full directory to begin your search.