(SAN FRANCISCO) — A crane operator working on a transit project in San Francisco unearthed a tooth of a woolly mammoth this week. Paleontologist James Allen told ABC News’ San Francisco affiliate, KGO-TV, that the tooth was believed to be between 10,000 and 11,000 years old, and that the fossil was in good condition.
“The Bay was a grassy valley with herds of these extinct critters just roaming around,” said Allen. “It’s a big deal, so we can study it, get some age dates, which help us figure out tectonics [and] seismicity like the San Andreas Fault.”
The 10-inch long fragment of tooth was found by crane operator Brandon Valasik 110 feet underground.
“I was excavating using a hammer grab and going through a layer of sand, when suddenly I noticed some strange object that came out,” Valasik told KGO-TV. “A few people tried to convince me that it was just a rock, but it just looked too perfect to be a rock.”
The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the organization in charge of the project, plans to donate the fossil to the California Academy of Sciences.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Pamela Brown, Jake Tapper and Dan Merica, CNN
Stephanie Elam, CNN
Ivaylo Vezenkov, CNN