PRESTON, Idaho – A Southern Idaho man stumbled upon a rare find while using a backhoe to dig in a gravel pit on his property.
“It came to the point where I seen something weird or different inside the hill so I just stopped, kind of brushed off some of it,” Kasey Keller of Preston told KIFI-TV.
Upon closer inspection, the object Keller first thought was a plastic pipe or petrified wood appeared to be bone. He decided to call in the experts.
The object, according to Utah State University, was a 3 1/2-foot tusk of a Columbian mammoth. It could be anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 years old.
Both Utah State University and Brigham Young University took a piece of the tusk for carbon dating.
Columbian mammoths were 12 feet to 15 feet tall and likely roamed the grasslands of Lake Bonneville, according to the university. The type of sediment the tusk was found in indicates that it washed up after flooding, the school said.
Keller said paleontologists from BYU said they will return the tusk after preserving the mammoth remains.
“From what I was told, the odds of finding that in this area are rarer than finding a needle in a haystack,” Keller said. “And according to USU, they said they haven’t found any other mammoth remains in Cache Valley.”
He said the discovery inspired his twin boys, who recovered pieces of the tusk that broke off when Keller was digging with the backhoe.
“It’s kind of cool to think what actually was here on your property or, you know, by your house,” Keller said. “I’m definitely going to be digging with a lot more gracefulness because who knows what I might find.”
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