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Mammoth tusk found under the ocean more than 200,00 years old: UCSC scientist

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A team of scientists from the University of California, Santa Cruz, University of Michigan and members of MBARI's research ship have discovered a prehistoric mammoth tusk 10,000 feet below the ocean's surface along the Central Coast.From this find, scientists may be able to answer questions about the evolution of mammals.Usually, these kinds of skeletal remains are found deep underground or shallow waters, rarely are they found more than 10,000 feet of water off the Central Coast. "I think the tip that initially broke off was about that big. It was cut in sections and I was given a piece of that section," said Terry Blackburn, UC Santa Cruz associate professor who specializes in geochronology.From that piece of tusk, Blackburn was able to determine its approximate age."It's older than 200,000 years, that tusk has been residing in the ocean for over 200,00 years. It is my understanding, but it's not my expertise that it's a female and a juvenile," Blackburn said.UC Santa Cruz postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Katherine Moon, will use DNA from the tusk to search for answers about the mammoth."I'd love to know what happened? Where it was living? What happened to it? What was its life like?" Moon said.Moon took part in the second expedition off the coast of Monterey Bay.She was there when MBARI'S remotely operated vehicle (R.O.V.) recovered the rest of the tusk. It was more than three feet long.She will extract DNA to learn about its ancestry and the evolution of mammals in North America."You know, it gives us a really cool idea about what California looked like at the time. Ideally, the mammoth will tell us a lot more than just how it lived, but how everything lived at the time in that area," Moon said.According to scientists, this mammoth's tusk is in excellent condition for having been 10,000 feet underwater for 200,000 years.From this find, scientists may be able to answer questions about the evolution of mammals.Usually, these kinds of skeletal remains are found deep underground or shallow waters, rarely are they found more than 10,000 feet of water off the Central Coast."I think the tip that initially broke off was about that big. It was cut in sections and I was given a piece of that section," Blackburn said.From that piece of tusk, Blackburn was able to determine its approximate age."There's actually radioactive elements in the ocean that have imparted themselves in the tusk and I can actually measure how much of those radioactive elements are left and what they've turned into in order to estimate an age," Blackburn said.Scientists are in debate about which side of the mammoth the tusk came from."We really don't know if it's the left or right tusk that's a matter of some discussion," Blackburn said.There are many questions that remain unanswered over the next eight months or so before scientists release their final report.After work has been completed the tusk could be on display at one of the local museums.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. —

A team of scientists from the University of California, Santa Cruz, University of Michigan and members of MBARI's research ship have discovered a prehistoric mammoth tusk 10,000 feet below the ocean's surface along the Central Coast.

From this find, scientists may be able to answer questions about the evolution of mammals.

Usually, these kinds of skeletal remains are found deep underground or shallow waters, rarely are they found more than 10,000 feet of water off the Central Coast.

"I think the tip that initially broke off was about that big. It was cut in sections and I was given a piece of that section," said Terry Blackburn, UC Santa Cruz associate professor who specializes in geochronology.

From that piece of tusk, Blackburn was able to determine its approximate age.

"It's older than 200,000 years, that tusk has been residing in the ocean for over 200,00 years. It is my understanding, but it's not my expertise that it's a female and a juvenile," Blackburn said.

UC Santa Cruz postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Katherine Moon, will use DNA from the tusk to search for answers about the mammoth.

"I'd love to know what happened? Where it was living? What happened to it? What was its life like?" Moon said.

Moon took part in the second expedition off the coast of Monterey Bay.

She was there when MBARI'S remotely operated vehicle (R.O.V.) recovered the rest of the tusk. It was more than three feet long.

She will extract DNA to learn about its ancestry and the evolution of mammals in North America.

"You know, it gives us a really cool idea about what California looked like at the time. Ideally, the mammoth will tell us a lot more than just how it lived, but how everything lived at the time in that area," Moon said.

According to scientists, this mammoth's tusk is in excellent condition for having been 10,000 feet underwater for 200,000 years.

From this find, scientists may be able to answer questions about the evolution of mammals.

Usually, these kinds of skeletal remains are found deep underground or shallow waters, rarely are they found more than 10,000 feet of water off the Central Coast.

"I think the tip that initially broke off was about that big. It was cut in sections and I was given a piece of that section," Blackburn said.

From that piece of tusk, Blackburn was able to determine its approximate age.

"There's actually radioactive elements in the ocean that have imparted themselves in the tusk and I can actually measure how much of those radioactive elements are left and what they've turned into in order to estimate an age," Blackburn said.

Scientists are in debate about which side of the mammoth the tusk came from.

"We really don't know if it's the left or right tusk that's a matter of some discussion," Blackburn said.

There are many questions that remain unanswered over the next eight months or so before scientists release their final report.

After work has been completed the tusk could be on display at one of the local museums.

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