Why Was This Ancient Tusk 150 Miles From Land, 10,000 Feet Deep?

By Annie Roth.

A young female mammoth was wandering long ago near what would become the Central Coast of California, when her life came to an untimely end. Although she died on land, her massive body found its way into the Pacific Ocean. Carried by currents, her remains drifted more than 150 miles from shore before settling 10,000 feet beneath the water’s surface on the side of a seamount. There she sat for millenniums, her existence known to no one.

However, that all changed in 2019 when scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute stumbled upon one of her tusks while using remotely operated vehicles to search for new deep-sea species off the coast of Monterey, Calif.

“We were just flying along and I look down and see it and go ‘that’s a tusk,’” said Randy Prickett, a senior R.O.V. pilot at the institute. Not everyone believed him at first, but Mr. Prickett was able to convince his colleagues to go in for a closer look. “I said ‘if we don’t grab this right now you’ll regret it.’”

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