8-foot-long stegodon tusk found in Pakistan

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MONITORING REPORT ISB: An ancient tusk was found by scientists in Pakistan, offering clues to the history of the stegodon, an elephant-like animal that roamed over 1 million years ago. An ancient tusk unearthed in Pakistan could hold clues to the evolution of the modern elephant.

The intact tusks are rare, and this specimen should contribute to the understanding of the stegodon, a distant cousin to the modern elephant thought to have roamed the earth around 1.1 million years ago.

The tusk measures about 8 feet long and 8 inches across, say university officials. Scientists hope the tusk could help unlock some of the puzzle surrounding the evolution and lives of an extinct genus of the elephant family.

“This discovery adds to our knowledge about the evolution of the stegodon, particularly in this region,” Prof. Muhammad Akhtar, a scientist and the lead researcher on the trip, told the media.

Dr. Gerrit van den Bergh, a paleontologist and stegodon expert, cautioned AFP that the tusk would need further verification. The tusk is estimated to be 1.1 million years old, from the late Pleistocene period, which would correlate to a time period when stegodonts were still thriving, according to Dr. Bergh.

Prof. Akhtar estimated the tusks age using the uranium/lead radioactive dating technique. Like carbon dating, uranium/lead dating uses the radioactive decay of a naturally-occuring element, in this case uranium-238.


Published in: Volume 07 Issue 08

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