A mastodon tooth is one of the least likely things to turn up in a charity’s donation box, but that’s exactly what happened to Christian charity In The Image.
The tooth fragments are an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 years old and were discovered in a donation box during a July pickup in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Normal donations include clothing and other used items, making the mastodon tooth an incredibly rare find, notes Fox News. The massive animals once roamed North America and their remains sometimes turn up in Michigan, though they’re normally buried underground.
Jay Starkey, the charity’s executive director, commented of the tooth, “It’s pretty amazing the things we get. I just looked at it and said, ‘This is something different.’ ” That’s a bit of an understatement. The find included two tooth fragments and a tusk.
Starkey explained that the charity could have sold the mastodon tooth fragments to a private buyer and made quite a bit of money for the charity’s recipients. However, the new additions will instead have a home at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, where local educators can also use them as a classroom tool.
ABC News reports that John Timmer, an employee with the charity’s warehouse, was the first to discover the mastodon fossils. He recalled, “I picked it up and it looked like a tooth. The root was intact and it was cracked enough so you could see enamel. It definitely looked like some sort of tooth. But I didn’t really know what to do with it.”
Eventually, he called the museum to ask someone to look at the tooth. A curator immediately made the trip down to pick up the ancient artifacts and study them. Timmer recalled, “He said, ‘Yeah, it’s a mastodon tooth and it’s probably about 10,000 years old.’ “
Starkey was thrilled with the mastodon tooth’s new home, saying, “The fact it will be used for education purposes is the coolest thing.” He added, “IT doesn’t matter what the value was, because this educational value is priceless.”
[Image via ShutterStock]