Iowa construction worker spots massive woolly mammoth tooth thanks to dinosaur-loving sons

Justin Blauwet (left) found a more than 11-pound woolly mammoth tooth while working on a property owned by Northwest Iowa Community College
Justin Blauwet (left) found a more than 11-pound woolly mammoth tooth while working on a property owned by Northwest Iowa Community College (Pictures: DGR Engineering)

A construction worker on the job at a community college in Iowa made a find of a lifetime – a massive wooly mammoth tooth weighing more than 11 pounds.

Justin Blauwet was observing construction for his employer, , on property owned by Northwest Iowa Community College on March 4 when he spotted the 11.2-pound tooth on the ground, according to the company.

The father of two identified the tooth, which came up during excavation, thanks to his interest in pre-historic creatures and fossils. Blauwet credited his two sons – big dinosaur enthusiasts – with helping him make the discovery.

‘I’m a “nerd” like that,’ Blauwet said jokingly.

DGR Engineering contacted a paleontology repository instructor at the University of Iowa, Tiffany Adrain, to confirm that it indeed was a wooly mammoth molar.

‘While discovery of mammoth remains is not uncommon in Iowa, once the bones and teeth are out in the open, they can fall apart and disappear quickly because they are not completely fossilized,’ Adrain said. ‘This was a lucky find.’

The tooth measures 11 inches by 7 inches by 4 inches. It is likely an upper third molar on the right, according to East Tennessee State University head curator Chris Widga.

‘Based on the degree of wear, this animal was probably in its early 30s when it died,’ Widga said. 

Experts believe the tooth was below ground since the Last Glacial Maximum which was more than 20,000 years ago.

Even though Blauwet discovered the tooth, it belongs to Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC).

‘NCC already has many connections with its communities forged throughout the past half-century,’ the college’s president Dr John Hartog stated.

‘When Blauwet discovered this woolly mammoth tooth, it uncovered an even deeper connection – one that now ties our campus property way back to the prehistoric era of the retreating glaciers.’

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