On Feb. 19, fishing boat captain Mike Anderson of the F/V Rimrack made a rare catch in Rye Harbor, New Hampshire. In the net that was loaded with scallops and rocks, a 6-inch-long mammoth tooth fossil was found amid the shellfish.
Anderson reportedly immediately recognized it as a fossilized tooth.
"We knew right off it was a tooth because it has a nerve at the top," he said, reported Sea Coast Online
"He knew that it was something that was different and not a rock or manmade or anything like that," Anderson's wife, Padi Anderson said, reported the New Hampshire Union Leader
. "He saw the nerve hole in the tooth and pretty much knew what it was."
One of the boat's crew members, Shane Nicols, emailed Dr. William Clyde, a geologist at the University of New Hampshire. Clyde, who is currently on sabbatical and could not examine the fossil in person at this time, did look at the fossil via Skype, reported WMRU
. He believes the tooth belonged to a wooly mammoth.
According to the Huffington Post
, they have confirmed from two other experts that the fossil is "indeed" a wooly mammoth tooth.
"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," Professor Daniel Fisher, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan, said, according to Huffington Post
. "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, reportedly agreed with Fisher's assessment.
It is believed that 10,000 years ago when a wooly mammoth would have roamed the Earth in this area, this section of the water would have been land.
According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, wooly mammoths
originally lived in northern Africa and traveled to North America during the early Pleistocene age, crossing via a temporary land bridge that emerged during an Ice Age.
Mammoths evolved into several different species around the world and remnants of this earlier age are found in all corners of the globe. In October 2012, Digital Journal reported
an 11-year-old boy found a 30,000-year-old mammoth in northern Russia.
Anderson said he intends to put the mammoth tooth on display at the Rye Harbor Dock for all to see.