Prehistoric Mastodon Jaw Bone Found on Southern Iowa Farm

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- This past Saturday, a University of Iowa paleontology team was on a farm in southern Iowa to pick up the bone of a prehistoric mastodon.

Tiffany Adrain heads up the University of Iowa Paleontology Repository. She and a team of students went to take the donation of the bone and find evidence of more bones. Owners of the land did not want to be identified, to keep fossil hunters off their land.

“We were notified a couple of weeks ago that somebody had found a fossil in the middle of a small river on the property,” said Adrain. “It was actually a high school student who had found the object, and the landowners contacted us and notified us [and] sent us photographs. Now we could tell right away it was a jaw bone of a mastodon. A mastodon is an extinct, large, hairy elephant."

The team paired this with a donation from the same landowner over 30 years ago. At that time, the bones were identified as a larger, woolly mammoth.

“So perhaps our identification of mammoth was incorrect. We rushed to the cabinets, we carefully lifted out the bones, took some photographs of them and sent them to a specialist,” said Adrain. “Right away you know it’s mastodon because of these teeth.”

If you find a fossil of some kind and wonder what it might be, you can contact the University of Iowa Paleontology Repository here.

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