11-pound woolly mammoth tooth discovered at Iowa construction site

SHELDON, Iowa — A prehistoric discovery was made at an Iowa construction site when a member of an engineering crew found a tooth that once belonged to a woolly mammoth.

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The person who found the tooth, Justin Blauwet, found the tooth while working on a lift station project in Sheldon, Iowa. In a news release, DGR Engineering, for whom Blauwet works, said the tooth was exposed during excavation.

Blauwet said he was able to identify the large tooth because of his lifelong interest in fossils and prehistoric animals, saying in a statement, “I’m a nerd like that.”

After it was found, the tooth was sent to the University of Iowa to be professionally examined, KTIV reported.

“While the discovery of mammoth remains is not uncommon in Iowa, once the bones and teeth are out in the open, they can fall apart and disappear quickly because they are not completely fossilized. This was a lucky find,” Tiffany Adrain, a paleontology instructor at the University of Iowa, told KTIV.

The tooth is 11 by 7 by 4 inches and weighs 11.2 pounds. The head curator at East Tennessee State University, who examined the tooth, said it was likely an upper molar, and estimated the animal was in its early 30s when it died.

Woolly mammoths are extinct elephants that coexisted with primitive humans, going extinct in North America between 10,500 and 7,600 years ago, according to Britannica.

The property where the construction was being done is owned by Northwest Iowa Community College, leading Sheldon officials to believe the tooth belongs to the school. The city told KTIV it has suggested the school offer the tooth to the Sheldon Prairie Museum to be put on display.