An Ice Age juggernaut tooth has disappeared from a northern California beach after a woman took a photo of it then quickly left it in the sand, mistaking it for driftwood.
Jennifer Schuh posted photos on Facebook of the foot-long tooth that washed ashore at Aptos Creek in Santa Cruz, which caught the attention of local paleontologists.
She didn’t know what it was, the importance of it. It looks like an old piece of firewood,” said local history museum councilor Wayne Thompson.
“So she left it there.” It’s understandable,’ said the paleontology adviser KRON.
Another prehistoric artifact was found in the same cove in 1980 when a 16-year-old boy walking on the beach discovered a juvenile mastodon skull.
An Ice Age juggernaut tooth was discovered and later taken from a Northern California beach after the woman who found it left it thinking it was driftwood
Jennifer Schuh, the woman who discovered the juggernaut tooth on the beach
Mastodons roamed the earth 27-30 million years ago, paleontologists say
Schuh said she found the tooth at Rio Del Mar Beach and while she wasn’t sure what it was, she felt the urge to take pictures.
“I saw my husband coming up and I was like ‘you gotta see this,'” Schuh said.
‘He was like ‘huh, what am I…what is this? Are you going to take it?’ and I’m like ‘well no, I’m just going to leave it because I don’t have a use for it,’ Schuh continued.
Photos show the 12-inch tine laying in the sand with brown roots and a dark black neck and crown at the top.
According to Live Science, tusked animals ranged in size from seven feet for some females to ten feet for males.
The prehistoric creatures were smaller than mammoths, to which they are often compared, but could still weigh around four to six tons.
Schuh posted the photos of the find on Facebook in hopes that some of his friends might identify the find.
The snaps eventually made it to Thompson at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, where the search began.
“People said ‘woah that looks like a giant tooth’. I practically hit the ground. It was a mastodon tooth, right in the same area where we know mastodons lived in Santa Cruz County” , Thompson said.
Photos show the 12-inch tine laying in the sand with brown roots and a dark black neck and crown at the top
“I practically hit the ground. It was a mastodon tooth, right in the same area where we know mastodons lived in Santa Cruz County,’ paleontology adviser Wayne Thompson said.
According to Thompson, the tooth belonged to a Pacific behemoth.
By the time the paleontology consultant and Schuh made contact, the tooth was missing. ‘It wasn’t there. It’s MIA right now,” he said.
The tide was not high enough to wash the object away, so it is believed that another beachgoer who visited over the weekend caught it.
The searchers also sorted through the sand but found nothing.
Thompson said the dent was “so high on the beach in the dry sand that the only option is for someone to take it.” They might not know what it is and think it’s an old piece of petrified wood.
The find comes more than 40 years after the first remains of a behemoth were found in Santa Cruz County on the exact same beach.
In 1980, Jim Stanton found a skull which is currently on display at the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum.
“The skull discovered 40 years ago had sutures in the bones that weren’t fully fused, which means it was a juvenile,” Thompson said.
“The tooth that was found at the mouth of Aptos Creek was badly worn and was from an older adult, likely in his 30s or 40s,” he continued.
The prehistoric creatures were smaller than the mammoths they are often compared to, but could still weigh around four to six tons.
The tooth was found near Aptos Creek on Rio Del Mar Beach in Santa Cruz, California.
According to Thompson, the latest tooth discovery is a sign that Santa Cruz County may have been home to a pack of behemoths millions of years ago.
He also said they hope whoever took the tooth will return it soon.
“It’s super, super, super important to understanding how elephants lived in Santa Cruz County during the last ice age,” Thompson told KRON.
“There are only a few specimens of mammoths, and mammoths are more common than mastodons. Aptos was a popular destination for Ice Age proboscideans,” he said.
“It’s a piece of Santa Cruz history,” Thompson said.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History asks the person who found the tooth to call 831-420-6115 or email them at email@example.com.