Grand Rapids, MI

A Christian charity received a strange donation: 12,000-year-old mammoth bones

Anita Durairaj
Mastodon bonesPhoto byThomas R Machnitzki; CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Mastodon is an extinct species of large, elephant-like mammals that lived during the Pleistocene epoch.

Mastodons had long, curved tusks and a shaggy coat of hair, and were well-adapted for life in forests and swamps. They lived in North America, Europe, and Asia and became extinct about 10,000 years ago, likely due to overhunting by early human populations and changes in climate.

Fossils of mastodons provide important insights into the evolution of elephants and other mammals, as well as into the ecology of the late Pleistocene period.

Mastodon bones are not considered rare, but they are not as commonly found as those of other extinct Pleistocene mammals, such as mammoths or bison. Fossils of mastodons have been found in various locations in North America, Europe, and Asia.

In one surprising incident, mastodon bones made their way into a donation box that was eventually sent to a Christian charity.

In 2013, a Christian charity located in Grand Rapids, Michigan received mastodon bones as a donation.

The charity called "In the Image" is focused on providing clothing and household necessities for those who need them.

"In the Image" has received donations from various sources including individuals, churches, companies, and consignment shops but no one knew who sent them 12,000-year-old mastodon parts in a donation box.

At first, it looked like broken parts of something else but when the charity's director took a closer look at it, he figured out that it was bones. There were three mastodon bones coated in lacquer.

Mastodon bones can range in price from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars depending on several factors.

The sale of mastodon bones is regulated in some states, and it may be illegal to buy or sell certain specimens without proper permits.

The mastodon bones that the charity received as a donation were eventually donated to the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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