SEATTLE - Scientists from the Burke Museum have removed the largest and most complete mammoth tusk ever found in Seattle from the bottom of an apartment building construction site in the South Lake Union area.
During the excavation process this week, paleontologists carefully removed dirt from around the tusk with shovels, trowels and brushes. They then placed layers of plaster-soaked burlap bandages on one side of the tusk to help protect it when it is removed from the site.
Four museum paleontologists led by Dr. Christian Sidor worked late Thursday to prepare the waterlogged Columbian mammoth tusk to be removed from the hole 30 feet below ground.
At 10 p.m. they ran out of plaster and the museum’s director made a run to the Home Depot in SoDo.
Late Friday afternoon the tusk was wrapped in a blanket and strapped to a wooden pallet. A construction crane lifted it to a flatbed truck.
Plant and insect fragments were also collected at the site. Scientists said they will help reconstruct what the area looked like when the mammoth was alive. No other fossils were discovered during the excavation.
The museum said it could take it least a year for the waterlogged tusk to dry.
The museum will have temporary custody of the tusk, which still belongs to AMLI Residential. The two sides will now sit down and talk about future plans for the artifact.
The museum said the tusk presents a rare opportunity for paleontologists and other researchers to understand the conditions present in Seattle during the ice age.