Mike and Padi Anderson's trawler brings up fish, shrimp, scallops, squid -- and now, a woolly mammoth tooth. The New Hampshire couple acquired the Pleistocene prize on Feb. 19, when Mike found it in a pile of scallop shells and rocks that had been picked up in the boat's nets.
"We knew right off it was a tooth because it has a nerve at the top," Mike told local news website Seacoast Online.
The five-inch-long object was a tooth all right, but it wasn't immediately clear who the tooth had belonged to. Another member of the boat's crew got in touch with Dr. William Clyde, a geologist at the University of New Hampshire, who had a possible answer. Dr. Clyde said he would have to look more closely to confirm, but that the tooth might have belonged to a mammoth.
Now, two mammoth experts have confirmed the find for The Huffington Post. Professor Daniel Fisher, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan, said:
"This is indeed a mammoth tooth, and quite possibly from a woolly mammoth. The angle at which the photos provided were taken makes it a little tricky to identify which tooth, but it could be a lower first molar. Finding such teeth offshore from New England is not all that uncommon. During much of the part of the ice age when these animals were moderately common in this part of North America, sea levels were lower than they are now, and much of what is now the continental shelf was dry land and home to mammoths, along with other Pleistocene fauna."
Professor Adrian Lister, a researcher at London's Natural History Museum, agreed, saying: "It looks like a badly corroded but recognisable molar tooth of a mammoth, probably woolly mammoth."
Although it's quite a find, the tooth isn't the only strange thing Mike has found in the course of his work. He's also come across "whale vertebrae, porpoise skulls, an old fuel tank that he thought was a treasure chest, and even the body of a drowned kayaker," Seacoast Online reported.
What's next? Mike hopes he'll come across a tusk. "That would be something," he said.