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Mammoth of a discovery in central Illinois

The tusk is on display at the State Museum in Springfield, Ill.

By Amanda Vinicky, IL Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – Scientists from the Illinois State Museum unveiled a rare discovery yesterday: The remains of an ancient elephant that roamed Illinois thousands of years ago.

Last September, biology students at Lincoln College were doing experiments in Sugar Creek in Logan County.

Judd McCollum's classmates warned him not to stumble over a big rock. The then- freshman says when he felt it on his foot, he remembers thinking it odd that such a large rock would be misplaced in a creek comprised of peat, gravel and sand.

Turns out the budding scientist had found the largest documented Wooly mammoth tusk unearthed in Illinois. It's a curving spear more than 10 feet long.

McCollum says he'd never before thought about how the giant beast once may have walked across the land where his college now sits. He joined geologists from the State Museum in preserving the find, as well as the animal's other tusk and a ten-pound tooth also found in the creek.

Researchers are having the tusk carbon-dated to discover precisely when during the Ice Age the massive mammoth lived in Illinois.


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