Mammoth's tooth found in Williams Lake and preserved for decades by B.C. family - InfoNews

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Mammoth's tooth found in Williams Lake and preserved for decades by B.C. family

Bryan Johnson uses his mammoth tooth as a conversation starter in his Vancouver home.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Bryan Johnson
February 18, 2020 - 12:00 PM

What was once part of a mammoth-sized smile now is a very old conversation starter in Bryan Johnson's Vancouver home.

Johnson's stepfather found a mammoth tooth in a creek at the south side of Williams Lake roughly 60 years ago.

“He used to use it as a doorstop and I always wanted it and liked it,” Johnson said. “It’s crazy it came out of something’s mouth.”

Johnson asked if he could have it, and now it sits in his living room. He said it weighs around five pounds and when people see the fossil, they call it "amazing," and note that "it's super cool."

He sent the picture into iNFOnews yesterday, after reading the story about B.C.'s Interior being the old stomping ground for the massive creature.

Woolly mammoths roamed around the Thompson Okanagan more than 10,000 years ago.
Woolly mammoths roamed around the Thompson Okanagan more than 10,000 years ago.
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

UBC Okanagan professor Robert Young, said fossils are difficult to find in the Interior and confirmed that Johnson’s fossil was from a mammoth.

To preserve fossils, organisms have to be buried quickly, but places like the Okanagan Valley don't have the same opportunities for fossil preservation due to the volcanic rock, Young said.

READ MORE: Mammoths claimed the Thompson Okanagan as their home more than 10,000 years ago

“The Okanagan Valley is actually a tectonic feature from rifting,” Young said, meaning that Earth’s outer crust shifted and created the valley.

The valley split apart about 40 million years ago, and magma was able to gush to the surface of the thinner crush. Places like Knox Mountain and Dilworth were once volcanos, he said.

Young said sometimes when people discover fossils, they keep them and keep them in private homes until the owner eventually dies and the fossil is passed on to family members.

Johnson, who grew up in Kelowna, said he eventually plans to retire in the Central Okanagan, so the tooth will make its way back to the Interior.

READ MORE: Diverse fossil site near Kamloops reopens to the public after 7 year hiatus

More than 10,000 years ago, two species of mammoth, the woolly mammoth and Columbia mammoth lived in the Thompson Okanagan.

The woolly mammoth was smaller than the Columbia, Young said, which may have been an arctic adaptation. Their teeth alone can weigh as much as 20 pounds each and the mammals could reach a total weight of anywhere between 3,000 to 8,000 pounds.

— This story was originally published at 7 a.m. Feb. 17, 2020.


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