May 18, 2011

Perfectly Preserved Mastodon Skull Unearthed In Chile

A scientist reported on Tuesday that a perfectly preserved skull of a mastodon was found in Chile during excavation work at a water treatment plant.

"This is the remains of a gomphothere (mastodon) skull in optimal condition," paleontologist Rafael Labarca told AFP about the discovery of the animal, which had two to four tusks and died out 10,000 years ago.

The remains were discovered on February 15 during work to expand a water treatment plant in Santiago by the French firm Suez and Aguas Chilean Andes.

Labarca, who was involved in the discovery, said a mastodon shoulder bade and lower jaw were discovered in 2008 in southern Chile, but this is the first time Chilean paleontologists have discovered a complete skull.

The research expects to have information by the end of the year on the lifestyle and migratory movements of the animal.

The research was funded by France's Suez and conducted under the supervision of the National Museum of Natural History.