A family vacation in Ohio’s picturesque Amish country gave one boy a surprising glimpse of a far-off past, a time when glaciers covered North America. Last week, Jackson Hepner, age 12, discovered a massive woolly mammoth tooth, dating to the Ice Age, in the creek that runs through the Inn at Honey Run in Millersville, Ohio.
“It’s just a neat find,” innkeeper Jason Nies told local news outlet WEWS. “It’s not every day you get to touch and feel and see a mammoth tooth!”
Hepner, a relative of Nies, knew he had spotted something unusual when he saw the tooth partially buried in the creek, slightly upstream from the bridge where they had been taking photos during a family reunion.
“His dad and his uncle are both really into natural history and understanding nature,” Nies said. “They quickly jumped online and were Googling it, and that’s when we quickly found out this might be a mammoth or a mastodon tooth.”
The family reached out to local experts, including Dale Gnidovec of Ohio State University’s Orton Geological Museum, Nigel Brush of Ashland University’s geology department, and P. Nick Kardulias of the archaeology program at the College of Wooster, who all confirmed that the ancient fossil was a mammoth tooth—an upper third molar, to be precise.
The woolly mammoth lived in the region between 110,000 and 12,000 years ago and used their massive ridged teeth to grind grass and seeds.
“We’re thrilled to be the site of a unique and special find that proves there could be some hidden treasures among the rolling hills of Ohio’s Amish Country still waiting to be uncovered,” wrote the inn on its blog.
“I would like to have my tooth back in my hands as soon as possible,” Hepner wrote in a note accompanying a hand-drawn map showing the spot he found the tooth. “I want to show my friends.”
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