North America, Alaska, Pleistocene epoch (Ice Age), ca. 35,000 years ago. A huge fossilized rib from a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), mineralized to a deep brown. Size: 2" W x 30" H (5.1 cm x 76.2 cm); 31.75" H (80.6 cm) on included custom stand.
Imagine walking in a modern Arctic or sub-Arctic landscape like Alaska, northern Canada, or Siberia and finding a fossilized bone like this rising from the ground - the name mammoth comes from a Siberian word used to describe the tusks found there by native people, like the Khanty of the Irtysh River basin, and traded to Europe and China. Their occasional finds of massive tusks and even preserved mammoth bodies in the permafrost - often eroding out of the sides of river banks - led to their folkloric belief that mammoths were like huge rodents, dwelling underground, dying when they accidentally surfaced. With the invention of science as a discipline, massive bones like this one continued to capture imaginations all over the world - for example, Thomas Jefferson, who was fascinated by paleontology, is credited with introducing the use of the word mammoth as an adjective to describe something very large.
Provenance: private Hagar collection
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