Idaho Man Finds Rare Mammoth Tusk
In late July, Kasey Keller was digging in a gravel pit near his home in Preston when he came across something odd.
“You know, at first I thought it was kind of like a plastic pipe. Then I got looking at it more and I’m like, maybe petrified wood,” Keller said. “Then I looked at it further and detail and it looked like bone and you know, honestly, the first thing that came to my mind is like a mammoth tusk.”
After showing his wife and kids, Keller called Utah State University. Scientists from USU came and verified that the fossil was a 3 ½ foot-long Columbian mammoth tusk.
“They were thinking that it was a Columbian mammoth that roamed the grasslands of Lake Bonneville,” Keller said. “I asked them how old they thought the mammoth was, and they said 15, 16 years old just by the size of the tusk.”
And that’s not something Utah scientists come across every day.
“And I asked them how rare it was, and I said… is it like needle-in-a-haystack rare? And they said no, it’s rarer than a needle in a haystack,” Keller said. “I guess the one guy, the paleontologist or whatever, he said he’d been doing it for 15 years and he doesn’t know of any other mammoth remains that were found in Cache Valley.”
Both Utah State University and Brigham Young University have taken pieces of the fossil for carbon dating. It could be anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 years old.
Keller said the incident has changed the way he sees his own backyard.
“You know, when I dig in that gravel pit I’m going to be a lot more cautious of how much material I remove without looking for pieces,” he said. “You know, every scoop I take out of there, I’m going to think, did I just dig up a fossil?”
Keller has no plans to sell the fossil, but hopes to share it with museums in the future so all can have a chance to see it.