When Davy Villanueva set out for a recent day of fishing along the San Antonio River, he could not have imagined that he’d be returning with what appears to be the tooth of a prehistoric mastodon. He extracted the tooth from a portion of riverbed exposed because of prolonged drought. The angler also found other bones, possibly from the same animal, before recent rains covered the area with water.
“I walked in the river and reached down in there and pulled it out, and wow, I never seen anything like this,” the angler told KENS 5 News.
The tooth has yet to be officially identified but it’s clearly from an ancient creature and closely resembles other discoveries of mastodon teeth.
Mastodons, distant relatives of elephants and ancient mammoths, roamed North America from 2 million to about 13,000 years ago. They stood up to 10 feet tall at the shoulders, and weighed up to eight tons.
Their teeth, according to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature, featured conical projections on the crowns of their molars, which were adapted for browsing (see image).
The molars of mammoths, conversely, were flatter and adapted for grinding coarse grasses.
Villanueva, who has kept the location of his discovery a secret, is still pondering what to do with the tooth. But he said offers have streamed in.
As for his 7-year-old son, he believes the tooth is bad luck because of all the rain that has fallen since the find.
“My little boy, I don’t know, he’s scared of it,” Villanueva said. “He says, ‘Papo, go put it back in the water because it keeps raining.’ “
–Image is courtesy of Davy Villanueva, via KENS 5 News
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