20,000-year-old mammoth tusk and tooth found north of Lincoln
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11-foot-long woolly mammoth tusk now on display at the
Illinois State Museum
[AUG. 15, 2006]
SPRINGFIELD -- A recently discovered woolly
mammoth tooth and 11-foot-long tusk are on display at the Illinois
State Museum through Sept. 30. Officials unveiled the fossils at the
museum on Monday for the first time since their discovery by a
Lincoln College freshman and professor. Following the unveiling,
Illinois State Museum Director Bonnie Styles and Lincoln College
President John Hutchinson signed agreements that will preserve the
fossils while also making them accessible to the public.
"Each day we work to make this museum a place of learning and
discovery for our visitors," Dr. Styles said. "It's because of our
relationships with public and private organizations, citizen groups,
and educational institutions like Lincoln College that we're able to
share Illinois' natural and cultural heritage with the thousands who
walk through our doors."
Lincoln College freshman Judd McCullum
found the mammoth tusk in a creek bed north of Lincoln during an
environmental biology class project in September 2005. Dr. G. Dennis
Campbell, Lincoln College professor of biology and earth science,
was delighted with the find. "Judd is such a great outdoor person
and has an excellent eye for nature," he said. Campbell found the
tooth several months later.
Lincoln College contacted Dr. Jeffrey Saunders, curator of
geology at the Illinois State Museum, to advise the college on the
discovery. Following their recovery, the specimens have been at the
Illinois State Museum's Research and Collections Center in
Springfield undergoing study and conservation.
According to Saunders, the tusk and tooth are from a male woolly
mammoth that was about 50 years old at the time of its death about
22,000 years ago. Radiocarbon dating of a sample from the tusk is
under way and will determine more precisely the age of this Ice Age
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Lincoln College and the Illinois State Museum have collaborated
to preserve the woolly mammoth tusk and tooth and also make them
accessible to the public. The Illinois State Museum holds a premier
collection of mammoth and mastodon fossils. Following the premiere
at the Illinois State Museum, the tusk and tooth will be on exhibit
in the Lincoln College library.
"When Judd originally found the tusk, we relied heavily on the
expertise of the Illinois State Museum and followed their
suggestions on how to preserve the item. I'm elated with this
outcome and happy that Lincoln College can share this find with the
public," said Dr. Hutchinson, the college president.
The tusk and tooth will be on exhibit in the lobby of the
State Museum until they are relocated to Lincoln College
this fall. The museum is located at 502 S. Spring St. in
Springfield. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday
and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.
Department of Natural Resources news release]