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Dog finds ancient woolly mammoth tooth in backyard


LANGLEY, Wash. (CIRCA via KOMO) — An energetic, friendly puppy recently sank his teeth in something that is thousands of years old.

It’s a discovery dating to the ice age, and it was found on Whidbey Island.

“I can’t remember a time when a dog helped uncover a fossil,” said Andrea Godinez, who is the marketing director for the Burke Museum.

Eight-month-old Scout is a typical yellow lab. His owner, Kirk Lacewell, says in September the dog dug a shallow hole in his Langley backyard and made a historic discovery.

“I noticed he was carrying something around in his mouth,” he said.

Lacewell thought it was a piece of petrified wood or even a rock — items Scout never had interest in. But the next day, the puppy was still carrying around his treasure.

“On the second day, it made me think this is odd, 'I wonder what’s going on with this,'" Lacewell said. “I wonder what’s special about that rock?”

So he took what he thought was the rock and washed it and dried it, then it looked different.

“Part of it looked like bone. It looked like bone that had a covering over it, and it was partly worn off,” he said.

So Lacewell sent pictures to experts at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum.

“All of the paleontologists over there agree it’s part of a woolly mammoth tooth,” he said.

A tooth that scientists say is 13,000 years old.

“They typically preserve more than other parts of the mammoth,” Godinez said.

Quite a few mammoth teeth and some bones have been found on Whidbey Island.

The animals, which grew to be 13-feet tall and about 22,000 pounds, were prevalent in the region during the ice age — and it turns out — in Lacewell’s backyard.

“We can just look out there and imagine a woolly mammoth,” he added.

The fossilized tooth will now remain on the living room mantle where Scout can no longer get it.

The Burke Museum says the tooth is not rare enough to be featured in a museum collection.

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