PHOTO: Ancient Mastodon Tooth Found On California Beach

Watercolor mammoths walking in a snowy mountain landscape

Photo: Getty Images

rare mastodon tooth was found on the beach in Santa Cruz, California, thanks to a tourist and a jogger. The foot-long tooth was first discovered by Jennifer Schuh.

She didn't know what the object was, so she took a photo and shared it on Facebook. She thought maybe it was just a piece of driftwood and asked others what they thought.

A local paleontologist Wayne Thompson happened to see her post and realized she had discovered an ancient mastodon tooth.

Schuh met up with Thompson and took him to the spot where she photographed the tooth. Unfortunately, when they went back, it was gone. They searched the area but found no traces of the tooth.

"The only option is somebody took it. They might not know what it is and think it's an old piece of petrified wood," Thompson told KRON.

A few days later, Jim Smith happened to be jogging along the beach and stumbled on the ancient tooth. He recognized it from an earlier news report and contacted the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

"I was so excited to get that call," Liz Broughton of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History said in a statement. "Jim told us that he had stumbled upon it during one of his regular jogs along the beach but wasn't sure of what he had found until he saw a picture of the tooth on the news. He was so excited to hear it was a mastodon tooth and was eager to share it with the museum."

The museum analyzed the tooth and determined that it belonged to a male mastodon in its 30s or 40s. Based on the carbon dating of plant material in the area, they estimate the tooth is about 5,000 years old.

The new find will be on display at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History until Sunday.

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