A hiker is pulling a giant ancient tooth out of a lake in Texas, photos show

A hiker is pulling a giant ancient tooth out of a lake in Texas, photos show

Set in mud and salt water at a Texas hiking trail, the tooth could be lost forever.

But Art Castillo sensed something about it, so he pulled it out of the lake, he said in a Facebook post, sharing photos of his Sept. 15 discovery.

Several times a week, Castillo walks along the Cotton Belt Trail in Waco, looking at the ground as he goes, hoping to see something interesting, picking up an arrowhead now and then, he told KCEN.

The tooth could not be hidden from him.

At first glance, the ancient object may look like nothing more than a rock, but the disguise is thin. The odd shape, and the patterns that decorated it, looked unique to Castillo — and he was also familiar.

He had seen something similar before in a museum, a tooth that belonged to a grandmother, Castillo said in the post. A few others proposed the same theory.

To find out for sure, he took the tooth with him to the Waco Mammoth National Monument. Experts confirmed what he expected.

He walked across a giant tooth, estimated to be anywhere between 25,000 and 50,000 years old, Castillo said.

Art Castillo donated the big tooth to the Waco Mammoth National Monument.

Art Castillo donated the big tooth to the Waco Mammoth National Monument.

An ancient relative of elephants, mums roamed the earth for millions of years before becoming extinct 4,000 to 10,000 years ago. Many early human groups relied heavily on mummies for food and clothing, used their massive bones to build shelters, and even made their tusks into weapons.

There has long been speculation that humans hunted mammoths to extinction, but more recent research suggests that the end of the Ice Age, with its rapid changes in climate and environment, was also a disaster for the animals. A massive glacial melt wiped out large swaths of plants, leaving them with little to eat.

It is impossible to know how the owner of the tooth came to its end as far back as 50,000 years ago. Did spear-wielding hunters kill him? Did their hides keep them warm against the cold? Are his bones somewhere deep beneath the Texas soil?

The tooth raises questions and stirs the imagination.

Castillo decided to donate it to the Waco Mammoth National Monument “for children and visitors to see for years to come.”

Some told him he should sell it, but Castillo wasn’t interested.

“The happiness and joy this fossil will bring to visitors is more important to me than any dollar.”

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