A California Man Unknowingly Discovers an Ancient Mastodon Tooth While Running on the Beach

A California man picked up something a little more exciting than a seashell while out for a run on the beach.

Jim Smith, a frequent runner in the Aptos area of Santa Cruz, brought his find home, not knowing he just discovered a rare ancient artifact—a mastodon tooth. He came to the realization after an image of the item he brought from the beach appeared on his TV screen while he was watching the news.

More from Robb Report

According to McClatchy News, paleontologist Wayne Thompson of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History had been frantically searching for the ancient fossil. The scientist had first been alerted to its potential location when someone tagged him in a Facebook post from a woman who posted a photo of it at the beach, but when he went to search for it alongside her, it was gone. So, Thompson took to social media asking the person who found the artifact to come forward.

“We are currently ISO (in search of) anyone who might have recovered this tooth off the beach at the mouth of Aptos Creek at Rio del Mar,” Thompson wrote in an Instagram post. “It is an extremely important specimen: the worn molar of an adult extinct Pacific Mastodon, Mammut pacificus.”

Thompson added that the only other documented mastodon specimen from Santa Cruz County, a juvenile mastodon skull with two teeth, was “found in the exact same area” in the 1980s.

“Fossils in Santa Cruz County are fairly rare,” Liz Broughton, the visitor experience manager at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, said. “That makes this find pretty invaluable to science.”

Smith eventually turned up at the museum so he could donate the fossil, estimated to be about 10 inches long.

“When it was turned in, I was absolutely amazed,” Thompson said, adding that the museum plans to run tests to determine the tooth’s age before putting it on display. He believes it is about 5,000 years old.

“It’s a miracle it was returned,” he said.

Sign up for Robb Report's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.