A new discovery in the depths of the Pacific Ocean has frozen scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI, for its acronym in English), California, because they found at a depth of three kilometers a mammoth tusk 90 cm long!
Steven Haddock, MBARI marine biologist, explained that in 2019 they undertook an expedition to a seamount located 300 km from the Californian coast by means of an unmanned robot, but at some point along the way they came across the mysterious tusk; Two years later, they returned to the same place to retrieve it.
How is it that the tusk of such a large animal got there?
The first hypothesis they made was that the elephant fell into the water from a boat, since they did not believe that it belonged to another species, but it turned out to be a Columbian mammoth, a species that inhabited a territory that extended from the north of what is now United States to Costa Rica.
“A specimen like this represents a unique opportunity to paint a picture of both the animal that no longer exists and its habitat, “said Beth Shapiro, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.” The remains of mammoths from the mainland of North America are very rare, therefore we hope that the DNA of this tusk can contribute a lot to our knowledge about mammoths in this part of the world, “he added.
The age of the tusk is still unknown, but it is speculated that it could be one of the oldest found so far in North America. at least 100,000 years.
“Our age estimate on the tusk is largely based on the natural radioactive decay of certain isotopes of uranium and thorium imparted to the tusk from the ocean. If the tusk had been found on land, decipher its history it wouldn’t be that simple“said Terrence Blackburn, associate professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
The professors explained that the ocean represents 99% of the space where life can exist on this planet and yet we still know very little about it, so this surprising discovery serves as a fragile reminder of the many remaining mysteries. “worthy of our protection”.
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