A Michigan charity that collects donated clothing, shoes and other items for low-income people got a really old castoff in a donation box: a mastodon tooth.
The remains of the extinct relative of the elephant turned up during a July pickup in Grand Rapids, according to the Grand Rapids Press. The tooth and an accompanying tusk are estimated to be 12,000 to 15,000 years old. The charity, called In the Image, turned the find over to the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which is adding the items to its collection.
“I’d love to find out where this was from and the history behind it,” said Jay Starkey, the charity’s director.
The tooth is broken into two parts and is covered in lacquer. The tusk, also covered in lacquer, is hollow at one end and also may be from a mastodon.
The animals roamed North America more than 10,000 years ago, and their remains turn up from time to time in Michigan, usually after being unburied. The museum already has a number of mastodon bones; the additions will be available for loan to educators for use in schools.
“This is kind of an oddball way for something to come in,” said Tim Priest, the museum’s collections manager.
The discovery is one of many odd donations the charity has received. Someone once left a painting that turned out to be worth about $5,000. That donation also ended up in a museum.