Kirk Lacewell from Whidbey Island, WA wasn’t surprised when his 8-month-old pup named Scout started digging in the yard. It’s typical behavior for an energetic yellow lab, but what wasn’t typical was what Scout dug up. In a shallow hole in the backyard, Scout pulled out what looked like a rock. He started carrying it around as a prized possession, and that’s when Lacewell realized things weren’t exactly as they seemed.
Never before interested in things like rocks or sticks, Scout seemed overly attached to the mystery item he pulled out of the ground. After two days of watching Scout tote around his treasure, Lacewell decided to take a closer look. He originally thought it was nothing more than a strangely shaped rock, or maybe a piece of petrified wood. As he washed away layers of dirt, mud, and dog slobber, however, he noticed something strange. Part of the mystery object looked like bone, and there was a worn covering that looked nothing like any wood or rock he had ever seen before. Somehow Scout knew he had found something special.
Wanting answers, Lacewell took pictures of his dog’s new chew toy and sent them to scientists at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum. When he heard back, all the paleontologists were in agreement. They told him Scout discovered part of a woolly mammoth tooth they believe to be around 13,000 years old. Woolly mammoths used to call that area of Washington home during the Ice Age, and apparently, they lived right in Lacewell’s backyard.
Scout’s discovery isn’t the first mammoth tooth or bone to be found on Whidby Island. The 22,000-pound mammals stood 13 feet high and survived off mostly grass. Their teeth were shaped for ripping and grinding their food, and scientists have found mammoth teeth are typically the most preserved parts of the animals found today. The specimen Scout found buried in the yard shows the outer enamel of the tooth worn in areas to expose the layers underneath.
Now that it’s out of Scout’s mouth, Lacewell plans to hold on to his dog’s buried treasure. He’s keeping the mammoth tooth out of Scout’s reach, but he still gives the dog credit for finding an impressive piece of history. Every time he looks into his backyard, he can now imagine what it looked like all those years ago. Who knows what Scout will dig up next.
Featured image screenshot via WPXI
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