March man excavates 400,000 year-old mammoth tusk at quarry
A giant mammoth tusk measuring more than a metre in length, and thought to be 400,000 years old, has been found in a Cambridgeshire quarry.
The prehistoric artefact was uncovered by a digger driver and is believed to belong to a Southern Mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis) – a larger relative of the Woolly Mammoth.
Palaeontologist Jamie Jordan who was called in to excavate the remains says the fossil will be a huge help in understanding more about life in Ice Age Britain.
“This is quite a massive specimen and it’s very unusual to find one of these in this particular location as not much has been recorded out of this area in the past,” said Jamie, “although there were big mammoth herds around here and into neighbouring Norfolk, where whole herds were killed for their resources.
“This tusk will help us understand how old the mammoth was when it died, and we might even see some marks from where it has been fighting.
“It will also help us understand what the eco-system and the environment of the whole place was like during the Ice Age period too.”
The tusk, which has started to decay, has been taken to Jamie’s museum Fossils Galore, in March, Cambridgeshire, where visitors will be able to watch it being cleaned up before it goes on public display.
The Southern Mammoth is one of the largest proboscideans to have ever lived; surviving on a woodland diet of shrubs and leaves it measured around 4m to its shoulder and weighed in at around ten tonnes.
Although he does not anticipate finding anymore remains of this particular mammoth, Jamie is hopeful the quarry will yield more exciting discoveries.
“This is a new site for us, so there’s the chance we might find some more stuff, as we’ve already come across some mammoth teeth and ice-age deer antler,” he added.
In 2017 Jamie was part of the team which discovered a rare 132-million-year-old Iguanodon skeleton in a Surrey brick quarry, which he is still excavating in readiness for public display.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the museum or who would like to support the dinosaur excavation project can contact Jamie Jordan at Fossils Galore on 01354 278089.