Prehistoric mammoth tusk discovered in the North Peace

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The exact location of the discovery can not be confirmed in time for publication.

An initial press release from the centre says the tusk is in near-perfect condition, with the exception of some loose pieces near its end which are now being reconstructed “in a jigsaw puzzle fashion” by Tumbler Ridge Museum staff.

Left alone after being exposed to natural elements, the centre warns it can begin to flake and eventually fall apart from the inside-out. Once completed, the centre’s collections manager Lisa Buckley, alongside her staff, will create numerous replicas to be put on display elsewhere. There are also plans to have carbon dating preformed.

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The tusk, weighing over 25 kilograms and measuring nearly two metres in length, is being donated to the centre by the couple who initially discovered it, Tom and Thelma Ostero.

Local palaeontologist Rick McCrea is expressing his appreciation for the donation.

“I am gratified by the general good-heartedness of people from the Peace region,” says McCrea. “The donors’ primary concern was for the proper long-term care of this significant fossil specimen. That kind of attitude makes it a privilege to work as a palaeontologist in this region and help display and promote its proud geo-heritage, which has few equals in the world.”

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The Treaty 8 Tribal Association, in partnership with local government, helped bring this tusk to the attention of the palaeontology centre.

Karen Aird, the Cultural Heritage Advisor for the Treaty 8 Tribal Association and the Tse’K’wa Heritage Society says the tusk was found in close proximity to the recently found prehistoric horse bone – reportedly 30,000 years old.

“Both of these finds are near the Peace River and are yet another indicator of the rich and diverse history of the region and Treaty 8 territory,” says Aird. “Our First Nation communities have many oral traditions describing the giant animals, but there is little scientific baseline data. Right now, with all the major projects in the region, including the proposed Site C dam, there is an immense and urgent need to further gather, understand and protect this ancient heritage.”

The tusk is now destined to be a prime exhibit in the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge as part of an Ice Age display, which includes the recently recovered, 12,400 year old Tumbler Ridge bison skull.

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A number of mammoth tusks and teeth have been unearthed in the Peace region over the past century, according to the centre’s press release, including from Hudson’s Hope and Taylor.

The exact age of this tusk can not be confirmed, but the centre is estimating all of the prehistoric specimens discovered range in age from 10,500 to 40,000 years-old.

“It is a haunting, evocative concept that this ‘American elephant’ may have coexisted with and been seen by some of the first human occupants of the land, such as at the remarkable Tse’k’wa site near Charlie Lake,” the press release concludes.

The centre discovered dinosaur tracks near near Williston Lake three weeks ago that they say covers an area the size of a parking lot.

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