GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It was a rather unconventional fossil dig, but fruitful nonetheless.
The 10,000-year-old tooth of an extinct mastodon was found at a West Michigan nonprofit after a donation was dropped off in a charity bin.
The mastodon is an extinct relative of an elephant.
In the Image in Grand Rapids gets dozens of donations every day for families in need, but they have never seen anything like this. John Timmer, who found the tooth, said it came from a truck donation of an estate. At first, he gave it no notice, because it just looked like broken pottery. But, after a closer look, he discovered its prehistoric origins.
“It looked to be a giant molar,” he said. The tooth was in two pieces.
He also found what’s believed to be a tusk. Timmer decided to donate the relics to the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which has two mastodons in its collection. Kate Moore with the museum says that, since the pieces are lacquered, it’s likely they were on display years ago.
“We do find a lot of weird stuff … and that probably, by far, tops the list of weird things that come in our door,” said Timmer.