It's not something you stumble upon every day.
Students in Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Jared Beeton's Environmental Colloquium course recently uncovered a mammoth tooth in the nearby Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, in southwestern Colorado's San Luis Valley.
The students are doing field studies on the site to piece together the environmental history of an old wetland by studying the soils and collecting peat for pollen analyses. The aim is to better understand climate change in the past in order to understand climate change in the future.
Beeton's undergraduate researchers are also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to plot the history of the wetland, which will support the wildlife refuge's claim for water for wetlands enhancement as habitat for animals and migrating birds.
The mammoth tooth is estimated at 30,000 years old, based on radiocarbon datings from the site, which has also yielded remains of ancient camel, extinct horse, extinct bison, and dire wolf. The tooth was reburied on the site.