12/21/2015 05:18 EST | Updated 12/21/2015 05:59 EST

Saskatoon Company Inland Aggregates Spots Woolly Mammoth Tusk In Gravel Pit

Government of Saskatchewan

SASKATOON — A woolly mammoth tusk believed to be between 12,000 and 15,000 years old has been discovered at a gravel pit east of Saskatoon.

Tim Tokaryk of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum says the fossil was found by Inland Aggregates at their work site last fall.

Tokaryk says the tusk will help expand knowledge of where woolly mammoths once roamed.

He also says it's rare to make such finds in work areas.

He says it's a good thing the company contacted the museum promptly, because an ivory fossil can break down quickly once it's unearthed.

The company's swift action allowed the museum to identify and preserve the tusk quickly.

"Conservation of ivory from fossil animals is extremely delicate. Once the tusk becomes exposed to air, it begins to dry out, expand and crack,'' Tokaryk said in a release Monday.

"If left untreated, it would be totally destroyed. We certainly appreciate Inland Aggregates and their workers in the discovery of this find. It would be lost to everyone if it had not been for them.''

woolly mammoth tusk

A cross section of the tusk. (Photo: Government of Saskatchewan)

Derek Lucik, operations manager with Inland Aggregates, said an operator spotted the tusk while he was stockpiling gravel.

"I've heard that this is not uncommon in our Alberta locations and that they normally contact the museum, so we attempted to do the same thing here,'' he said.

Mammoth remains tell of an environment in Saskatchewan of tundra at the edges of ice fields during the glacial period. Almost all of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum's collection of mammoth remains are isolated bones and teeth, except for the partial skeleton of one animal found near Kyle.

(CJWW, The Canadian Press)

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