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Uncle Siphuncle

A Spineless Mammoth Tusk

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Uncle Siphuncle

So I was paddling along a stretch of the North Sulphur River recently where I have little experience.  Most of the time, my eyes are on the Ozan formation down low, but for whatever reason, I glanced higher at the overlying Pleistocene Sulphur River Formation, and spotted a curious white ring from about 40 feet away.   Hmmm...worth investigating.  It was indeed ivory as I had suspected, and the dirt plug in the center suggested that I was staring at the pulp cavity on the proximal end.  Let's have a peek.

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1c 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1b 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1d 030218.jpg

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Uncle Siphuncle

A quick test dig gave me a bad feeling.  After exposing 12-18 inches, I could see that the tusk was complete without voids full circumference, but it was fragile and fractured pretty badly, at least near the face of the bank where leaching might be worst.  It reminded me of a rotten, soggy log.  Considering 350 mile distance from home, excessive overburden, tight schedule, inevitable "walkers" eventually coming through, and most of all, blown-in-place condition, I decided to back away from excavating this specimen.  With personal aspirations off the table, I asked a few buddies if they'd care to take their chances with this specimen, despite its challenges.  

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1e 030218.jpg

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Uncle Siphuncle

Anthony was gung ho to take over the project, with my promise to let him keep the specimen if it was salvageable, as sweat equity investment would be substantial.  Barry and Sean also lent a hand, as obligations kept me pinned in San Antonio for the duration.

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1m 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1p 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1s 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1t 030218.jpg

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Uncle Siphuncle

This thing was proving to be large and complete, but to Anthony, it became quite clear that structural weaknesses were substantial, perhaps insurmountable.  Still, he moved forward, hoping for the best.  Time for a jacket.

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1v 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1w 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1x 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1z 030218.jpg

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caldigger

That thing is HUGE!!!  I wish them all the luck in its removal. I hope they have a derrick and a swimming pool for the consolidation.

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ynot

Nice find! Thanks for sharing the adventure.

Bummer that it is so fragile.

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Heteromorph

It looks great in the last pictures! Hopfully it can be restored to its former glory. It’s odd to think that these things where walking and dying all over Texas not terribly long ago. 

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caldigger

If I had to cart around a pair of those in front of me, I might welcome death!

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Fruitbat

Okay Dan...that's fairly impressive but now I find myself wondering what a SPINY mammoth tusk would look like!?  Please let us know when you find one!

 

-Joe

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Uncle Siphuncle
6 hours ago, Fruitbat said:

Okay Dan...that's fairly impressive but now I find myself wondering what a SPINY mammoth tusk would look like!?  Please let us know when you find one!

 

-Joe

Ha!  This was my first ever “invertebrate” mammoth tusk, basically a balloon full of wet sawdust.  Hard to believe such a mushy mess came from such a formidable beast.

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RJB

Wow!  Waht a shame its not very well preserved.  Really neat pictures though. 

 

RB

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Fruitbat

Yeah...unfortunately I've found all too many tusks and horn cores like that in the Trinity River sediments.  They're so soft that you can actually poke your finger through them.

 

-Joe

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-AnThOnY-
50 minutes ago, Fruitbat said:

Yeah...unfortunately I've found all too many tusks and horn cores like that in the Trinity River sediments.  They're so soft that you can actually poke your finger through them.

 

-Joe

 

When first uncovered it was like a giant water balloon, if you poked the top top of it the sides would bulge and jiggle. After about 2 gallons of Butvar and couple days away to let it dry some it felt pretty solid and seemed promising. All until the first couple inches of movement and it all went south. Immortalized with photographs.

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Uncle Siphuncle
45 minutes ago, -AnThOnY- said:

 

When first uncovered it was like a giant water balloon, if you poked the top top of it the sides would bulge and jiggle. After about 2 gallons of Butvar and couple days away to let it dry some it felt pretty solid and seemed promising. All until the first couple inches of movement and it all went south. Immortalized with photographs.

This is all fodder for a country song.  “Broke Busted Mammoth Tusk Blues”, by Anthony and Dan.

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Xiphactinus

That's an amazing find and had to be heartbreaking. I wondered about consolidating with Butvar....so that didn't work? I don't what else you could have done. :shrug:

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JustPlainPetrified
13 hours ago, Uncle Siphuncle said:

These are the last pics I have of the tusk, majestic looking in its jacket.  But despite valiant efforts to stabilize it, this tusk was lunch meat, and gravity took its toll.  Check back in a year or 2 and perhaps there will be a painstakingly restored tusk to show.

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1z2 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1z3 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1z7 030218.jpg

Qsr Mammuthus columbi Tusk 1z8 030218.jpg

Looks to me like you did everything you could to preserve that tusk. Any other bone material around from the rest of the skull/skeleton?

 

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Uncle Siphuncle
23 minutes ago, JustPlainPetrified said:

Looks to me like you did everything you could to preserve that tusk. Any other bone material around from the rest of the skull/skeleton?

 

Lots of eyes there from our little cadre of enthusiasts...a collective “Nope!”

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Uncle Siphuncle
47 minutes ago, Xiphactinus said:

That's an amazing find and had to be heartbreaking. I wondered about consolidating with Butvar....so that didn't work? I don't what else you could have done. :shrug:

Given infinite time, no competition, and budget for a 55 gallon drum of Paleo Bond, I’d say expose the whole length on a narrow pedestal, squeege the exposed surface immaculate, let it thoroughly dry full cross section, turn off the rain from the heavens, then carefully saturate the entire thing with Paleo Bond, taking care not to foul the surface.  Jacket.  Bond lumber superstructure to jacket to lock out any and all axial, flexural, and torsional degrees of freedom and resulting deflections in response to shifting quasistatic and shock loads inherent to handling.  Simple, right?

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jpc

butvar and vinac are great in dry sediments.  For this wet tusk, some sort of acrylic might have worked better, but then you also need time to let it dry.  It is a water based preservative.  

 

Mammoth tusks are terrible.  They should be outlawed.  

 

Is that a U of C tee shirt I see you wearing?  I am a 1983 grad.  

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Uncle Siphuncle
43 minutes ago, jpc said:

butvar and vinac are great in dry sediments.  For this wet tusk, some sort of acrylic might have worked better, but then you also need time to let it dry.  It is a water based preservative.  

 

Mammoth tusks are terrible.  They should be outlawed.  

 

Is that a U of C tee shirt I see you wearing?  I am a 1983 grad.  

I was just the drive-by finder, serving as armchair advisor/purveyor of bad humor during this undertaking.   Maybe Anthony will indulge you on back story of his attire.

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-AnThOnY-
48 minutes ago, jpc said:

butvar and vinac are great in dry sediments.  For this wet tusk, some sort of acrylic might have worked better, but then you also need time to let it dry.  It is a water based preservative.  

 

Mammoth tusks are terrible.  They should be outlawed.  

 

Is that a U of C tee shirt I see you wearing?  I am a 1983 grad.  

 

It had been exposed for most of a week to dry some when most of the butvar was applied. I agree though, when even slightly damp, the butvar tends to precipitate out on the surface and not quite penetrate.

 

U of C? Mississippi State ;) 

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abyssunder

Excellent find! :D

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Phevo

What an ungrateful fossil

 

With the amount of care and love you gave it, it should have jumped in the kayak and paddled it's way to the truck on it's own

 

Thanks for the walkthrough ;)

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KimTexan

Very cool find. Too bad you didn’t have electricity and couldn’t put a couple fans and heaters on the thing. Good summer Texas sun and heat would have done it wonders, but then you couldn’t wait that long.

I keep my eyes down in the bed most of the time, or on the red layer. Guess I need to look up some too. I have never seen anything in the upper layer when I have looked though.

Hum, Pleistocene, that may be the answer to a fossil ID post I just made about something I found yesterday in the NSR.

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