For some, the deep sea is less a terrifying, pitch black abyss, and more a vast, unexplored realm full of surprises to uncover. We do not understand the latter camp, and will make no attempts to do so.
That said, we do have to hand it to them for recently finding something that even our thalassophobic asses can admit is pretty damn cool: While guiding a remote submersible along the ocean floor, researchers recently stumbled across a three-foot-long woolly mammoth tusk.
Although the bone was first spotted back in 2019 by remote submersible pilot Randy Prickett and scientist Steven Haddock, the team returned this past July to collect the specimen and confirm its origins. Sure enough, further analysis showed that the tusk belonged to none other than a long-dead mammoth.
“You start to ‘expect the unexpected’ when exploring the deep sea, but I’m still stunned that we came upon the ancient tusk of a mammoth,” Haddock said.
Mammoth bones have apparently been found in the ocean before, but generally in waters only a few meters deep. This one, in contrast, turned up about 10,000 feet down in the murky depths. As such, the temperature and pressure of such a deep sea environment ensured the tusk remained incredibly well-preserved over the past tens of thousands of years.
“The ocean represents 99 percent of the space where life can exist on this planet and yet we still know very little about it,” reads the press release from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “As interest in exploiting the deep sea by mining for valuable metals has grown—with the potential to place many marine animals in harm’s way—this surprising discovery, hidden on the seafloor for eons, serves as a fragile reminder of the many remaining mysteries worthy of our protection.”
Well put, MBARI. Although that’s great and all, we gotta say that anything bringing us a step closer to cloning woolly mammoths cannot end well for us as a species.
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