A Mammoth Undertaking

Hi, I'm the Columbian mammoth whose 8 ½ foot tusk was unearthed in February 2014 at an AMLI Residential construction site in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood.

Maybe you heard about it?
It was kind of a BIG deal.

The experts at the Burke Museum are guiding my tusk through a complex conservation process. The Burke and AMLI have created this website to keep everyone up to date on what's happening and what scientists are learning about what the Pacific Northwest was like 20,000 years ago (hint: WAY different).

I have a name!

I knew it would come back to me! Learn more about my name and check out some of the other great ideas—and great drawings—you all came up with.

I'm LuLu

Mammoth News

Paleontologists look inside Seattle mammoth tusk

Evening Magazine, Mar. 14, 2014

Burke Museum plans next steps with found mammoth tusk

The Daily of the University of Washington, Feb. 27, 2014

Make it a grande: Mammoth tusk find likely Seattle's largest

KTOO News, Feb. 17, 2014

Burke Museum Press Room >


    View all >


    My tusk is currently behind the scenes for conservation. We'll update this page as new developments occur.

    What's happening to my tusk now?

    For the next year or so, my tusk will be wrapped in plaster, kind of like a broken arm or leg in a cast. In the meantime, the scientists at the Burke will study the dirt from around my tusk to learn more about Ice Age Seattle.

    Right now, the experts at the Burke are carefully monitoring my tusk as it dries in its plaster jacket. When it was discovered, my tusk had spent a LONG time in some very soggy ground, and it was so soft you could scrape it with your fingernail. Needless to say, it needs some TLC, a process that could take up to 2 years.

    Finding my tusk

    My tusk was discovered by a backhoe operator at an AMLI Residential site in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. The good folks at AMLI contacted the Burke and allowed their scientists to carefully remove the tusk for preservation and further study.

    Read more about the recovery:
    Diggin' the South Lake Union Mammoth >

    See the location >

    How did I get here?

    Comparison of Columbian mammoth, the largest, with Woolly Mammoth and American Mastodon, the smallest.

    As a Columbian mammoth, my ancestors crossed over to North America about 1.8 million years ago. We roamed from Alaska to Mexico and were still here as recently as 11,000 years ago.

    You might be asking, where's the rest of me? To be honest, we're not sure. My tusk can tell us a lot about how I lived, but it's possible that the rest of my remains were destroyed over time.

    They could also have been transported by water or scavengers... we may never know.

    More on Ice Age Northwest and Mammoths >

    What was my life like?

    Would you believe that glaciers up to 3,000 feet once covered the whole Puget Sound area? They came and went many times from about 60,000–10,000 years ago. When I was hanging out in Seattle (between glacier takeovers), this area was a big open grassland with a few pine trees. Ice, water, and geologic activity has shaped and reshaped the land around us. Plus, it seems like you humans have been busy doing some of your own reshaping of Seattle since I left!

    More on Ice Age Northwest >

    What other fossils have been found here?

    I may be Washington's official state fossil, but I'm definitely not the only interesting character from around here.

    • Crabs

    • Seastar

    • Ancient Whale

    • The Ground Sloth

    Fossils? They've got that.

    My friends at the Burke have a LOT of fossils. In fact, their paleontology collection includes more than 3 million things! All of these objects help us discover the life before us, which, in turn, helps us think about the future of our world.