June 16, 2024

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Florida man finds prehistoric find in Manasota headwaters: ‘Very rare’

Florida man finds prehistoric find in Manasota headwaters: ‘Very rare’

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A Florida man recently found a major prehistoric trophy while diving off the coast of the Sunshine State.

Lundberg, who studied marine biology at the University of South Florida, told Fox News Digital that he found an ancient mastodon tusk while searching for fossils off Manasota Key, which is about 90 miles south of Tampa. He found the trail again in April.

The mastodon tusk, which has not been dated, could be millions of years old. While the 29-year-old said he has been diving for 12 years, Lundberg has been a fossil hunter since he was “old enough to walk.”

“My dad used to take us to construction sites all the time to look for fossils when we were kids,” Lundberg explained.

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Lundberg, who studied marine biology at the University of South Florida, found the tusk last April. (Alex Lundberg)

“Finding small bits and pieces of tusks is common, but finding a piece of this size that is well preserved is very rare,” the scavenger added. “Florida canines are usually very sensitive and usually crumble.”

American mastodons became extinct about 10,500 years ago, according to the National Park Service (NPS). Fossils of these massive creatures have been found throughout North America and Central America, from Alaska to Mexico.

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Contrary to popular belief, mastodons are not the same species as mammoths, although they share a common ancestor with mammoths and elephants. The creatures can grow up to 10 feet tall.

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Split round image of Lundberg holding a tusk and Lundberg holding another fossil

Lundberg describes himself as a lifelong fossil hunter. (Alex Lundberg)

“Although the mastodon has been around ever since [4 to 3 million years ago]“Mammoths did not arrive in North America until much later, during the Pleistocene ice ages,” the NPS website reads. The Pleistocene era extends from 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago.

“In many places mastodons coexisted with mammoths, but all North American mustelids became extinct about 10,500 years ago,” the NPS added.

Lundberg advises that aspiring fossil hunters should remember to obtain a paleontology permit, if they are lucky enough to find a prehistoric creature. Excavation permits in Florida cost only $5 each, he said.

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Lundberg looks at a huge tusk

It’s rare to find an intact, well-preserved mastodon tusk off Florida waters, Lönnberg says. (Alex Lundberg)

“My best advice is to get out there and explore and keep your head down,” he said. “These things are all over the state.”

As for where the ancient mastodon tusk will go next, Lundberg said he will keep it unless experts deem it important enough to donate.

“I plan to keep it, but I have to report it at the end of the year to the Florida Museum of Natural History,” he said. “If they think it’s scientifically important, I should donate it, but that’s very unlikely.”


Fox News Digital reached out to the Florida Museum of Natural History for comment, but experts were unable to comment at the time of publication.

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