Scientists ‘stunned’ by discovery of mammoth tusk during deep-sea exploration

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Scientists have unexpectedly discovered a giant tooth while exploring a seamount more than 3km deep and some 300km off the coast of California, shedding light on one of the many mysteries that lie deep in the ocean’s deepest depths. Used to be.

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The strange specimen was first observed in 2019 by marine biologists Steven Haddock and Randy Prickett, pilots of their remotely operated vehicle, during an expedition on R/V. western flyer,

Since they were only able to collect a small sample at the time, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) returned this July to retrieve the complete sample.

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“You start to expect the ‘unexpected’ when exploring the deep sea, but I’m still stunned that we came upon the ancient tooth of a mammoth,” Dr. Haddock said in a statement.

While other mammoths have been retrieved from the ocean in the past, scientists say these were mostly from a depth of a few tens of meters.

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“The deep-sea preserved environment of this specimen is different from almost anything we’ve seen elsewhere,” said University of Michigan paleontologist Daniel Fischer, who specializes in the study of mammoths and mastodons.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists including the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) and the University of Michigan is currently examining the teeth.

Preliminary analysis, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, revealed that the tusk may be more than 100,000 years old.

Scientists said that if the teeth were found on the ground, its history could be difficult to understand. They believe this could potentially be the oldest preserved mammoth tooth ever recovered from this region of North America.

“Our age estimates at Tusk are largely based on the natural radioactive decay of some uranium and thorium isotopes delivered to the Tusk from the ocean,” said Terence Blackburn, associate professor of Earth and Planetary Science at UCSC.

The researchers also hope to rediscover the history of ocean currents to better pinpoint where the tusks may have originally come from.

The scientists, led by Beth Shapiro, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC, also plan to sequence ancient DNA from the sample and compare it to previously recovered DNA from other mammoths.

“Specimens like these present a rare opportunity to paint a picture of an animal that was alive and the environment it lived in,” Dr Shapiro said. “Mammoth remains from continental North America are particularly rare, and so we expect that DNA from this tooth will go far to refine what we know about mammoths in this part of the world.”

With a growing worldwide interest in exploiting the deep sea by mining for valuable metals, scientists said the current discovery is a “delicate reminder” of similar secrets that have been hidden on the ocean floor for centuries, which protect are eligible for.

“We are grateful to a multidisciplinary team analyzing this remarkable specimen, including geologists, oceanographers and palaeontologists from UCSC; and paleontologists at the University of Michigan,” said Dr. Haddock. Our work is just the beginning and we look forward to sharing more information in the future.”

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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