ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A pair of duck hunters in northwest Alaska stumbled upon a 177-pound (80-kilogram) woolly mammoth tusk sticking out of the ground.
Justin Schultze and Brandon Nayokpuk spotted what they initially thought was a shiny log while hunting earlier this month near the village of Shishmaref on the Chukchi Sea coast, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.
Schultze and his cousin dug with their hands for about a half-hour to free the item from the clay-like soil, finding a curved 12-foot (3.7-meter) tusk. They loaded the tusk onto a skiff to lug home, later weighing it on a meat scale.
Since bringing the tusk home, about half the village of 600 people has visited his house in recent days, Schultze said. The tusk’s surface is mostly smooth, like polished amber, he said. The tusk’s center is encircled with dark ribbons, and the tip appears gray and dull.
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Schultze has already sold the tusk to an Anchorage man, fetching a nice price after splitting the money with Nayokpuk, he said.
Shishmaref, like other villages in the Arctic, has seen the effects of climate change. Stable sea ice has become less frequent, and coastal roads have become vulnerable to storms with surging waves.
An unexpected effect is that artifacts are being unveiled by erosion. Area residents have found mammoth bones and teeth, and a larger tusk was discovered a couple of years ago, Schultze said.
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com