The Harvard Dental School Museum has just received the largest tooth in the world, measuring 11 feet, two inches in length, and weighing well over 300 pounds. This tooth is over 50,000 years old, and was formerly a part of the anatomy of a mastodon.
Dr. Adelbert Fernald, who found the tooth during a trip to Alaska, related the unusual manner in which it was found to a CRIMSON reporter yesterday afternoon. The exploring party traveled up the Yukon until it reached the Porcupine river, a tributary extending almost due north from the Yukon. Inasmuch as there was practically no night at this stage of the journey, the sun being up 22 hours a day, the party continued on their way without a stop for 160 miles up the Porcupine. Although they were well within the Arctic circle, the temperature was about 98 degrees for 22 hours out of the 24. After a 40-mile trip over land, the party came to the end of their journey. The prospector, whom they were seeking, told them the details of the discovery he had made and proceeded to take them to the spot where he had found the relic imbedded in the earth.
The tusk was found sticking in a river bank, which was 200 feat high, at that point. Half of the tusk was protruding from the bank, the other half being wedged between stratas of rock, as was discovered when excavations were made in the attempt to dig it up. This work took several days, as care had to be taken not to injure the tooth, which, although cracked in places, was otherwise in excellent condition.
The tooth was bauled 55 miles by dog team, then transported down the Porcupine in a boat as far as Fort Yukon. It was shipped express direct to Boston.
Heretofore the largest mastodon tusk was in the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, a specimen measuring nine feet. The Harvard specimen is over two feet longer than the Carnegie specimen, and scientists have estimated that, during the 50,000 years it lay in the earth, corrosion has reduced its size at least two feet, making its former length well over 13 feet.
Efforts are being made to locate the mate of the tooth, and it is hoped that other remains of the monstrosity will be uncovered. The erosion of the river bank at the point where the tusk was found, was most fortunate, as it would not have been discovered otherwise, due to the depth at which it was buried.