Removing the cast on LuLu's mammoth tusk

Afte two long years of waiting, we finally opened the cast protecting the the 8.5 foot long Columbian mammoth tusk that was unearthed at a construction site in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood! The preservation process is intentionally slow to protect the tusk. When the tusk was removed from the ground in February 2014, it was extremely water-logged and unstable. So Burke paleontologists fully encased it in plaster to prevent it from drying too quickly.
 
Burke paleontologists still have a lot of work to do on the tusk, but this was an exciting glimpse into the tusk's preservation process!
 

Bruce Crawley carefully makes the first cut into the plaster cast

The cast removal process begins!

Photo: Burke Museum

A saw blade cuts through the plaster cast

A saw blade carefully cuts through the plaster cast surrounding the mammoth tusk.

Photo: Burke Museum

Paleontologists in the Burke prep lab carefully cutting the plaster cast away from the tusk

Burke paleontologists carefully cut through the plaster cast surrounding LuLu's tusk.

Photo: Burke Museum

A piece of the cast is removed from the tusk

Our first glimpse at the tusk as a portion of the cast is removed.

Photo: Burke Museum

A sample of the tusk sits off to the side

A sample of the tusk is set aside to be sent off to the lab for testing.

Photo: Burke Museum

Learn more about LuLu the Seattle mammoth and what the Northwest was like during the Ice Age (hint: imagine about 3,000 feet of ice covering Seattle!) at seattlemammoth.org.

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