A fossil hunter made an astonishing discovery while diving in a Florida river: the fossilized jawbone of a mammoth.
John Kreatsoulas, who directs Fossil Junkies Dig and Dive Chartersan organization that organizes fossil hunting trips for the public, discovered the intact fossil while exploring a section of the Peace River near the town of Arcadia.
He first thought it was a log, but upon closer inspection he realized it was a large mandible.
Kreatsoulas doesn’t know exactly how old the specimen is, but thinks it could be at least 10,000 years old.
“I hung it up just to hold on for a second, and I realized, ‘wait a second, that’s not a tree, that was a mammoth jaw,'” he said. CNB2a local Florida outlet.
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Kreatsoulas plans to have the jaw cleaned and analyzed by experts in Tampa, who will be able to determine the age of the fossil using radiocarbon dating. This is where researchers determine the levels of particular radioactive elements – often radiocarbon or potassium – in a fossil to determine when a rock formed or when an animal died. The bone will also be registered with the state of Florida, so it could end up in a museum rather than Kreatsoulas’ personal collection at home.
It is not clear exactly what type of mammoth the fossil belonged to, but Colombian mammoths (Mammoth pigeon) inhabited North America – and as far as Costa Rica – during the Pleistocene Epoch (2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago).
The Columbian mammoth was probably a hybrid between the woolly mammoth (The original mammoth) and an unknown lineage of mammoth that arrived in North America from Siberia about 1.5 million years ago, according to DNA research.
Colombian mammoths disappeared between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago, end of the last ice age. Warmer temperatures have led to a loss of habitat for this megafauna, which, combined with human hunting, has led to a huge population decline.
This is not the first time mammoth fossils have been discovered in Florida’s Peace River. In 2021, divers discovered 1.2 meter mammoth leg bone in water. Meanwhile, in northern Florida, researchers have unearthed a 5.5 million year old artifact. gomphotheres “cemetery”a four-tusked relative of modern elephants, which had probably drowned in a prehistoric river.