A crane operator working on a transit project in San Francisco unearthed a tooth of a woolly mammoth on Monday. Paleontologist James Allen told ABC News’ San Francisco affiliate, KGO-TV, that the tooth was believed to be between 10,000 and 11,000 years old, and that the fossil was in good condition.
“The Bay was a grassy valley with herds of these extinct critters just roaming around,” said Allen. “It’s a big deal, so we can study it, get some age dates, which help us figure out tectonics [and] seismicity like the San Andreas Fault.”
The 10-inch long fragment of tooth was found by crane operator Brandon Valasik 110 feet underground.
“I was excavating using a hammer grab and going through a layer of sand, when suddenly I noticed some strange object that came out,” Valasik told KGO-TV. “A few people tried to convince me that it was just a rock, but it just looked too perfect to be a rock.”
The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the organization in charge of the project, plans to donate the fossil to the California Academy of Sciences.