The Burke Museum has announced that it’ll begin excavation this afternoon of the mammoth tusk that was discovered Tuesday at a dig for an apartment complex in South Lake Union.
The museum reached an agreement with AMLI Residential, a multi-billion-dollar company with apartments nationwide, to take possession of the tusk that was found at the site at Mercer Street and Pontius Avenue North, said museum spokeswoman Alaina Smith.
“We expect it’ll take a few hours,” she said about digging out the tusk.
Smith said museum staff will need to determine whether the tusk — about 4 to 5 feet is poking out of the ground — will need to put inside a plaster jacket similar to a plaster cast for a broken arm.
The tusk, if that is all that is found of the mammoth, will be put inside wooden pallets and transported back to the museum on Friday afternoon after construction crews end their daily work.
“The excavation will cause us some construction delay but the scientific and educational benefits of this discovery clearly outweigh the costs and delay. This is an exciting discovery for our local Northwest history,” said Scott Koppelman Senior Vice President of AMLI Residential, in a news release issued by the museum.
The tusk might be displayed at the museum’s Dinosaur Day on March 8, but that is dependent on its condition, said Smith.
The tusk likely is from a Columbian mammoth, and probably 16,000 to 22,000 years old, said Bax Barton, a research associate in the Burke’s paleontology division.
The mammoths were vegetarians who ambled around this region, eating 300 to 600 pounds a day, when it was plains in between ice ages, and when a Puget Sound didn’t even exist, said Barton.