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Old in the tooth Mammoth tusk found on Roche building site

Tusk-oriented behaviour: measuring the recent discovery

Tusk-oriented behaviour: measuring the recent discovery

(NLZ)

An almost two-metre mammoth tusk, thought to be around 20,000 years old, has been discovered in canton Zug during excavation work for a new building for pharmaceutical giant Roche.

“We stopped work immediately and told the cantonal services about what we’d found,” Annette Lehmann, a manager at Roche, told the Luzerner Zeitung. 

The archaeological department was delighted: in addition to the 1.90-metre tusk, the workers had unearthed several bones, all in excellent condition, most likely belonging to the same animal. 

“For us, used to finding deer or cattle bones – human bones too – this is a huge discovery,” said an official. 

The remains of the mammoth probably date to the end of the last ice age, some 20,000 years ago, the archaeologist explained, adding that analyses will be made to date the bones more precisely. 

Finding mammoth remains is rare, according to the Luzerner Zeitung. The most recent such find in canton Zug was 50 years ago. 

What’s more, finding such well-preserved bones is even rarer – they are usually broken by water coming from the glaciers or rubbish in rivers. For this reason, teeth are the most common discoveries, being the toughest part of an animal. 

The paper added that the tusk had triggered great interest among workers at Roche, who had launched a competition to name the tusk, which they want to put on display once the building is built.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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