World's Largest Mastodon Skull Goes for $191,200 in Auction - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/19/08

World's Largest Mastodon Skull Goes for $191,200 in Auction

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"Everything was bigger and better in the past... More complex, more teeth, more bones, more tailbones, more ribs," says fossil expert Joe Taylor.

Mastodons and mammoths have been part of our modern culture for years. Many think they're the same thing or at least related, but Taylor doesn't think so.

"As far as I can tell they're not even related all though they try to make 'em. One evolving from the other, but I haven't seen that," he said.

Taylor owns the Mt. Blanco Museum in Crosbyton and among the thousands of pieces of world history housed in his museum, one used to quite literally stand out above the rest. Now a replica sits in its place. Taylor says it's the worlds largest.

"As far as we know it is. Anytime you say that, you have to have done due diligence," Taylor said.

Taylor has checked with museums across the globe comparing the original mastodon skull to other big ones and as far as he can tell his is the largest. The original one now sits in an auction house in Dallas. Taylor says he needs the money to repay investors who financed the skull's excavation. But even without the original, there's plenty to see and learn at the Mt. Blanco Museum.

NewsChannel 11 asked if the picture hanging nearby is an actual representation of how big the tusks are? "The tusks are around nine feet and if his head was laying on the ground, his head would be almost five feet from the floor," said Taylor.

The mastodon skull is called the Lonestar Mastodon and it was found in LaGrange, Texas, near San Antonio. As it turns out, this mastodon wasn't alone in the Lone star state when he died.

"Why are so many buried in Texas, I don't know. I've been 40 miles that way and 40 miles all around this area and I can tell you that there are a dozen mammoths buried in a half square mile," said Taylor.

There's one other unique characteristic about the Lonestar Mastodon. "This particular one has tusks coming out of his lower jaws," Taylor added.

Taylor says it is a rare feature but when he was alive, the Lonestar Mastodon would have used these tusks to eat.

NewChannel 11 asked, How much the creature weighed when he was full grown and before he died? Taylor response, "He would weigh a lot more than the biggest bull elephant you can find because they're a lot more dense."

That means they would have weighed in at more than 30,000 pounds or 15 tons.

If you would like to see the original skull or make a bid, the auction starts Sunday. (Click here) for more information.

The skull sold for $191,200 during the Sunday auction.

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