Mastodon tooth found in donation box to be displayed in Michigan museum

Christian charity In The Image received an odd donation of two mastodon fossils in July.
By VERONICA LINARES, UPI.com   |   Oct. 10, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Parts of a prehistoric mastodon that were donated to a Grand Rapids charity in July will be displayed in the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Michigan.

“At first, it looked like broken parts of something,” said Jay Starkey, director of In The Image, the Christian charity that received the fossils.

But upon further inspection the parts were determined to be the pieces of an extinct elephant-like species that lived in North America over 10,000 years ago.

One of the bones, a tooth, is reportedly the size of a loaf of bread. Another piece, a tusk, is hollowed at one end. Museum staff believes it was probably carved at some point. Both parts are covered in lacquer.

Although the tusk is believed to be from a mastodon, that fact has not yet been confirmed. The two pieces are estimated to be anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 years old.

Starkey said this wasn't the first time the museum received odd donations. He said that over time the charity has received drugs, a $5,000 painting and an urn full of ashes.

“That was probably the weirdest thing,” he said of the latter.

Because the charity box containing the remains was not inspected upon pickup, Starkey said it he was unable to determine which house they came from. Crew members think it came from a house near Ada.

“I’d love to find out where this was from and the history behind it,” he said.

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