CUNNINGHAM, Kan. — An 8-foot-long tusk of a mammoth uncovered earlier this year by a southern Kansas construction company has been moved to a Wichita State University lab.
The tusk will be cleaned and prepped for display in the Kingman County city of Cunningham, according to the Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/2e4J2S6 ).
The tusk was longer when first discovered by workers who were running a sewer line across a grain elevator’s property, but part of it broke off during the project.
Wichita State associate anthropology professor David Hughes, who worked at the tusk’s excavation site with his students, said the tusk belonged to a mammoth that was probably about 15 to 20 years old and about 12 feet tall.
“Anything to do with mammoths is pretty exciting,” anthropology graduate student Emily Jones said. “I always tell people it is really hard to explain the excitement of holding something that, in this case, may be 50,000 years old.”
Radiocarbon dating will be conducted to determine the tusk’s age, although Hughes suspects the tusk might be from 200,000 years ago, which would make it one of the earliest discovered in the state.
The tusk was probably from a Colombian mammoth, which is the largest species of elephants or mammoths that lived in North America. Mike Everhart, an adjunct curator at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, said this specific mammoth most likely died in another location and its body floated in what might have been the paleo-Ninnescah River.
In addition to the tusk, Hughes also found a camel tooth, a horse tooth and a mammoth tooth at the same excavation site. He thinks the area may be an ice age graveyard.
Hughes also discovered a mammoth tusk in 2005 around the same region in Kansas.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com