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Toothy Find a Reminder of Life in Michigan 10,000 Years Ago

“Huckleberry” Phil Stoll discovered part of a 10,000-year-old Mastodon tooth while exploring a creek with his friend last summer. “It’s a great reminder of what used to roam the country,” a Michigan State University expert says.

Mastodon, which look like hairy elephants, roamed Michigan 10,000 years ago before going extinct. (Photo: Wikimedia)
Mastodon, which look like hairy elephants, roamed Michigan 10,000 years ago before going extinct. (Photo: Wikimedia)

This story will bring a smile to anyone who ever went exploring for nothing in particular and came home with something rare.

In the case of Phillip Stoll, a 9-year-old kid who is known as “Huckleberry Phil” in his Windsor Township neighborhood because he loves to explore, the find is a 10,000-year-old Mastodon tooth, The Detroit Free Press reports.

Phillip found it – or rather, his foot found it – late last summer. He was walking barefoot with a friend in a creek when he stepped on something sharp.

The curious kid had to take a closer look. He retrieved it and showed it to his mother, who began sleuthing its origin online.

At first, Heidi Stoll thought it might be an old car part or a misshapen rock. .

“I didn’t even think that it could have been a tooth until I started checking online for some kind of match,” she told the Free Press. “We saw a picture of a Mastodon tooth and said ‘there it is.’”

Jim Harding, a Michigan State University Herpetologist and Wildlife Outreach Specialist for the Department of Zoology and MSU Museum, confirmed the treasure did, indeed, come from a Mastodon, a hairy, elephant-sized mammal that roamed through Michigan more than 10,000 years ago.

People find Mastodon bones every few years in Michigan, he said. A couple of youngsters made headlines in Shelby Township in 2011 when they stumbled on an American Mastodon bone. Bones have also been found near Lansing.

Harding says finds of fossils and artifacts are great living history lessons.

“It is a great reminder of what used to roam the country,” he said. “It most likely got stuck in a swampy area and drowned.”

Joseph Borrajo April 18, 2014 at 06:27 PM
Mastodon from the word masticate. A different tooth structure than the Mammoth. P3
Tony Lollio April 19, 2014 at 10:32 AM
It's amazing what can happen when you put down your ipad and jump into a creek. Congrats to Huck Phil on a great find, and props to mom for doing the detective work!

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