Local NewsDiver finds rare mastodon tusk off Florida coast

Diver finds rare mastodon tusk off Florida coast

A diver found a large fragment of a mastodon tusk
A diver found a large fragment of a mastodon tusk
Images source: © Licensor

2:54 PM EDT, June 18, 2024

Not far from the coast of Florida, an unusual situation arose. Alex Lundberg, a diver and "treasure hunter," stumbled upon a rare find. Initially, he thought he had pulled a piece of wood from the floor of the Atlantic, but it turned out that he had accidentally discovered something much more valuable – a large fragment of a mastodon tusk.

Preliminary examinations and measurements revealed that this is a significant fragment of a tusk from an extinct animal. It measures about 4 feet in length and weighs almost 68 pounds. It was found at a depth of about 25 feet, near Venice Beach, Florida.

“In a sense, we knew that something like this could be in the area,” said Lundberg in an interview with The Independent, referring to previous discoveries in the region. He added that as he fanned the sand away, he noticed the object "was getting bigger and bigger." Once he had pulled it out, he realized he had chanced upon something far more valuable than a piece of wood.

Fragment of mastodon tusk on the floor of the Atlantic

Mastodons are extinct proboscideans that do not belong to the elephant family. They resembled the elephants we are familiar with but differed in having a very abundant coat of hair, different teeth, and a pair of powerful tusks.

Scientists believe that mastodons disappeared from Earth about 10,000 to 9,000 years ago due to hunting and drastic climate changes. They mainly inhabited the swampy and densely forested areas of present-day North America, although the remains of some species have also been found in present-day Africa and Eurasia. Depending on the species, they typically grew to about 8 to 10 feet in height at the shoulder. The largest of them, the Mastodon Borson, stood out by reaching up to 13 feet in height at the shoulder and weighing as much as 32,000 pounds, with the longest tusks by far.

Diver would like to keep the find

Alex Lundberg is storing the find in his home and would like it to remain with him. However, it is uncertain if that will be allowed. According to Florida law, vertebrate fossils found in the state, which includes local coastal waters, belong to the authorities and the Florida Museum of Natural History. Like other such finds, the mastodon tusk fragment must be reported to the museum, where decisions regarding its further fate will be made.

“The museum will review the discoveries and investigate the location to determine their significance. The current holder may keep the fossils if the museum does not request them within 60 days of reporting. This could be a significant find, depending on exactly where it was discovered,” said Rachel Narducci of the Florida Museum of Natural History.

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