Local News

'Mammoth' Maine find; Mass. boat pulls up tusk

Posted: 01/05/07 at 12:05 am    Updated: 01/06/07 at 12:05 am

CUSHING, Maine -- A fisherman pulled up what appears to be the tusk of a wooly mammoth from Georges Bank off the Maine coast.

The Maine State Museum is examining the dark, curved and pointed specimen, which was dredged up in a load of shells by the New Bedford, Mass.-based scallop dragger Celtic.

Fisherman Tim Winchenbach of Cushing brought the piece home to his wife Michelle, who began researching to see if it could be from a wooly mammoth.

"I was looking for some different pictures to compare it to, and there's been a couple it looks very similar to," she told WCSH-TV in Portland. "So it kind of reinforced our thoughts it could be (a mammoth)."

Remains of the extinct breed of elephant, which had a covering of long hair, have been found in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. They lived from 1.6 million years ago to around 10,000 years ago.

The tusk of an elephant unearthed in 1959 by a man digging in a pit in Scarborough, Maine, was first believed to be that of a circus elephant that was destroyed in 1816. However, after the tusk was acquired by the Maine State Museum, carbon dating indicated that it was a mammoth's.

Professor Bill Glanz of the University of Maine's Department of Biological Sciences said a wooly mammoth or mastodon could have lived in the Georges Bank area 13,000 years ago. The animals survived the ice age when that area was dry land and New England was covered by thick ice, he said.

Michelle Winchenbach is waiting for answers about her husband's find, but she already feels the thrill of holding something so old.

"Just the thought that I've held something that's potentially 10,000 years old or older, that nobody else in the world touched before us, I find it really fascinating," she said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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