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A New Jersey Mastodon
Originally Published By
New Jersey State Museum

By Glenn L. Jepsen

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Many separate molars and pieces of tusks of mastodons have been re-covered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean off the New Jersey coast, and the questions raised by these specimens are of great interest and sig- nificance in geology. How did they get there? They are frequently found by scallop fishermen in the dredges which are dragged along the bottom of the ocean, and we are indebted to the owners and operators of the fishing boats and to other interested friends in the Atlantic City area for discoveries and reports of these valuable records.

So many teeth of mastodons and bones of other land-living mammals have been discovered on the sea floor that it seems unreasonable to insist upon transport by water currents or iceberg rafts rather than to assume that the animals lived where the bones are found, now reported to be under as much as several hundred feet of water, and as far as several hundred miles from the coast. If the creatures were living there on dry land the ocean level must have been much lower than it is now, perhaps the result of the vast amount of water that was locked as ice in the great glaciers of the Ice Age. The submarine fossil fields may be a favorable place for future collecting by skin divers.

Most of the teeth found in the ocean are gray or brown or black in color, and they show signs of beginning to become petrified. When part of one such mastodon tusk was treated with preservatives it unexpectedly turned pink, – the only pink elephant I ever saw!

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