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A Ridiculous Find


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A friend of mine last weekend was digging near an old creek bed on his farm property in Southern Ontario and came across a "Weird rock" as he described to me that I should check out, when I got to his house and he presented the approx. 10lbs "weird rock" my jaw hit the floor, this weird rock was 100% a tooth from something that lived a looong time ago. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen before, so after an hour of googling we realized by the cusped shapes on the tooth this was a mastodon tooth....in his back yard practically. We are planning on going back to dig this weekend, so my question is a shallow one I'm sure to the people of this forum, He has expressed an interest in possibly selling what we find. If anyone has any insight as to the legality of moving fossils of this size, and perhaps if anyone knows where we could find buyers it would be greatly appreciated. I have read other topics on this forum that relate sort of to this one but on a much smaller scale. I understand how this may sound but I want to make it clear he's not interested in just adding to his bankroll, in a way he thinks maybe this could save his farm if he was to make something from it. It's not a matter of greed but a matter of getting by for him. Thanks in advance for any help, in the next couple days I am going back to his place and if he lets me I will snag a pic for you.

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calhounensis

Ebay is a good place to start and get an idea of what other teeth are selling for. The forum doesn't do appraisals of fossils but perhaps someone would send you a private message with one. 10lbs is pretty large for a single mastodon tooth, I'm sure everyone here would love to see it. I don't think I have ever seen any mastodon material from Canada. Good luck.

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11 minutes ago, calhounensis said:

Ebay is a good place to start and get an idea of what other teeth are selling for. The forum doesn't do appraisals of fossils but perhaps someone would send you a private message with one. 10lbs is pretty large for a single mastodon tooth, I'm sure everyone here would love to see it. I don't think I have ever seen any mastodon material from Canada. Good luck.

Thanks for the suggestion, yes I am excited to share it with you folks get some more insight on it. I guess I should ask too about any tips for our next dig, maybe some basic do's and don'ts on the topic would help us because as far as this sort of thing goes our only source of info is the first 15 minuets of Jurassic Park haha. I'm sure I can google it but some experienced people might have better tips.

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Tidgy's Dad

Welcome to TFF from Morocco! :)

Hope you can get a photo, I'd love to see this.

Good luck with the valuation. 

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Looking forward to seeing the pictures.

 

Before your friend considers selling it, perhaps this thread will prove helpful in terms of legalities concerning export: 

 

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Welcome to The Fossil Forum! Successfully excavating something the size of a mastodon (or even some of the larger bones) is a time-consuming and painstaking affair...often taking weeks or months of effort and involving stabilizing the specimen, plaster-jacketing the bones and getting it out of the ground.  It really isn't something that the inexperienced should try.  Even with the best of intentions, an enthusiastic beginner often does far more damage than good.  It might be a good idea to contact a local museum for help.  Of course, you do risk losing the specimen if you do that.

 

Best of luck to you!

 

-Joe 

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On 4/2/2018 at 8:24 PM, Fruitbat said:

Welcome to The Fossil Forum! Successfully excavating something the size of a mastodon (or even some of the larger bones) is a time-consuming and painstaking affair...often taking weeks or months of effort and involving stabilizing the specimen, plaster-jacketing the bones and getting it out of the ground.  It really isn't something that the inexperienced should try.  Even with the best of intentions, an enthusiastic beginner often does far more damage than good.  It might be a good idea to contact a local museum for help.  Of course, you do risk losing the specimen if you do that.

 

Best of luck to you!

 

-Joe 

Thank you very much for your reply Joe that is a very reasonable way to look at it and really the dilemma I find myself in for him in a sense. If there is a full skeleton in as good of shape as the tooth down there then to risk excavating ourselves with very little practical knowledge of the detail professionals make sure to cover, possibly damaging it, then to sell what we do find off...no matter how you rationalize it in the moment, it sort of feels like you're robbing history in a way.  It's not my property or find so I have yet come right out and say that to him because I thinks he sees more of the financial opportunity, but I guess we'll see what happens. He has since been in contact with a nearby university so who knows. Anyways Thanks for the welcome to the forum from you and a few others. I've always had an interest in and appreciation for history so after perusing the site along with this experience has really refuelled my interest in this branch of history, I'll probably stick around the forum after this is all said and done. Heck,  maybe I'll turn fossil searching into a hobby to break up my mundane working life. 

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On 4/2/2018 at 7:46 PM, Kane said:

Looking forward to seeing the pictures.

 

Before your friend considers selling it, perhaps this thread will prove helpful in terms of legalities concerning export: 

 

Thank you for the reply, it seems legally he may have no choice.

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If it just a tooth, I doubt it will save the farm. :( we have a whole donated jaw over at Western. Doubt that brought riches, :( sorry to say, but this may be more about science than dollars.

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Northern Sharks

Generally speaking, a loose mastodon tooth should bring anywhere between a couple of hundred to maybe a thousand depending on size and condition. These figures are based on teeth from the southern US where they are much more common. An Ontario tooth would likely command a premium to a collector, but how much I can't say. If there are more teeth/bones or especially tusks associated with it, then the price would take quite a leap depending how much more there is, but due to weight limits, selling much more than the tooth becomes a legal issue. There is also the issue of ivory exporting. Even though it is a fossil, there may still be some issues. I may be wrong, but I think there are some states that will not allow any proboscian material to be imported, fossil or not. I for one would certainly like to see a photo of the tooth if possible.

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Hi,

 

TFF isn't authorized to give a monetary estimation of fossils ! 

 

Coco

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