Texas man finds fossil from mammoth near river
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Texas man was kayaking on the Nueces River when he found the 60,000-year-old molar of a Columbian mammoth. Gipper Nelson, 68, is no stranger to fossil hunting and often pokes around the river banks. As he kayaked down the river, just north of George West, Texas, he saw something that he said looked like cow teeth buried in the clay.
“I was at the right place at the right time,” Nelson said. “I thought I saw cow teeth but I’d seen photos of molars before and I thought, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”
Nelson said as he uncovered the entirety of the tooth he thought he found a piece of a woolly mammoth, but experts at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi determined it actually belonged to a Columbian mammoth.
The Columbian mammoth was a larger, distant relative of the woolly mammoth and lived in North America from southern Canada to Costa Rica. Though similar remains have been found in areas like Waco, Texas, Nelson says it’s rare to find them in the George West area.
“Sometimes I find fossils, but I’ve never found anything like this,” Nelson said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Nelson said he plans to contact the General Land Office and the city of Corpus Christi about the find, but hopes to donate the molar to a George West Museum.
“It’s possible everything else, like the head and body, are still there, but that’s up to somebody else,” he said.