A 10,000 BC Mastodon tooth discovered in box of donated items

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A Grand Rapids charity found part of a 12,000-year-old mastodon tooth and tusk among a truckload of donations.

"We found it on the floor of the truck after we unloaded it," John Timmer of "In The Image" told a local news station.

At first, Timmer and other workers at "In The Image" thought the things rolling around on the floor of the truck used to pick up donations were pottery. But they turned out to be something with much more historic value.

"I picked it up and it looked strangely like a giant molar of an animal and you could see enamel on it, so it looked like a tooth to me," Timmer said.

Timmer kept the items on a shelf a while. Then, he called the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Upon examination, the items were found to be part of the tooth of a mastodon and what looks like the tip of a mastodon tusk.

The museum thinks someone had used them in a display at one time because they had a coat of lacquer on them.

"You can see where the lacquer is coming off here," Katie Moore of the Public Museum says. "It looks like probably about 10, 12 thousand years old, but we know nothing else about the piece."

It's still a mystery who owned the pieces and how they ended up into a truckload of donations. Timmer says the driver made several pickups that day and didn't remember where he got it.

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