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February 13, 2014

AMLI Residential Partners with Burke Museum Paleontologists to Preserve and Remove Mammoth Tusk

AMLI Residential Partners with Burke Museum Paleontologists to Preserve and Remove Mammoth Tusk from their South Lake Union Development Site
Tusk appears to be the most intact and largest tusk found in Seattle

Media Contacts:

Kym Michela for AMLI Residential
(206) 240-1725

Alaina Smith, Director of External Affairs for Burke Museum
Andrea Godinez, PR Manager for Burke Museum
(206) 920-2413
burkepr@uw.edu, smitham@uw.edu   


SEATTLE, WASH. – February 13, 2014 – this evening, AMLI Residential and the Burke Museum will work together to prepare for the removal of a fossilized mammoth tusk discovered at AMLI’s apartment development site in the Cascade neighborhood of South Lake Union. The fossilized tusk was discovered during the excavation of the site.  

“AMLI not only develops high quality apartment homes, we manage them as well, and our management teams strive to be very involved in the communities in which we operate.  That involvement is important to our residents and to our employees.  So when our contractor informed us of this find, our first response was to determine how the community could benefit from this historical find,” said Scott Koppelman Senior Vice President of AMLI Residential.  “The excavation will cause us some construction delay but the scientific and educational benefits of this discovery clearly outweigh the costs and delay. This is an exciting discovery for our local Northwest history.” 

Following the discovery, AMLI contacted the Burke Museum whose paleontologists examined the fossilized tusk. “We are fortunate to have world-class paleontologists in our own backyard, added Koppelman. “We immediately picked-up the phone and called the Burke Museum and they have been incredible to work with.  We now understand that this is a significant discovery.”  

Beginning at 4 p.m. today, Burke Museum paleontologists will excavate the fossil and prepare it for transport to the museum. On Friday, February 14, beginning at 4 p.m., the tusk will be removed from the construction site and transported to the museum for examination.

Based on its anatomy and previous discoveries in the area, the museum believes the fossil is likely a tusk from a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi), which was designated the Washington State Fossil in 1998. It appears to be the most intact and largest tusk found in Seattle.

The Burke Museum is the Washington State Museum for natural history and culture. Paleontology collections at the Burke Museum include 25 mammoth fossils from King County, most of which are skeletal fragments and were found within Seattle. Dr. Christian Sidor, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Burke Museum, said: “Burke Museum fossils are held in the public trust and are available for researchers and the general public to learn from and enjoy. The accessibility of natural history objects provided by the museum greatly benefits the community and researchers alike.  Since the tusk is on private property, it could have ended up in a private collection.  We are very fortunate that AMLI contacted us to remove and care for the tusk.  Their decision to do so provides us and the general public with a great opportunity to learn more about mammoths in this area.”

The discovery of a mammoth tusk in South Lake Union is a rare opportunity to directly study Seattle’s ancient natural history. Contemporary Ice Age mammals include giant ground sloths (Megalonyx jeffersoni) like the one found at SeaTac airport and currently on display at the Burke Museum, and extinct bison (Bison antiquus), among others. Conditions were much colder and drier than today, and the region was probably covered with grassland and occasional pine trees, akin to the northern edges of modern boreal forests.

This particular tusk is an important find, not only because of its completeness, but because of its stratigraphic context. Visible at the construction site is a “marker horizon,” a blue-black layer that has a relatively well-understood age. Because the fossil is located approximately two meters below it, Burke paleontologists estimate that the tusk is at least 16,000 years old, but could be up to 60,000 years old. Carbon dating the specimen would provide a definitive age. The tusk presents a rare opportunity for paleontologists and other researchers to understand the paleoenvironmental conditions present in Seattle during the ice age.

Media Interviews: 

The site is restricted to construction and Burke personnel only. Media interviews will be conducted this evening, Thursday, February 13, at the corner of Mercer and Pontius Avenue at 5:00 p.m. PST. No interviews or additional information will be provided until the press conference this evening. Cameras are welcome. For questions regarding logistics for the press conference, please contact one of the two media contacts listed above.

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About AMLI Residential:

AMLI Residential is one of the preeminent multifamily companies in the nation. AMLI is focused on the development, acquisition and management of luxury apartment communities across the United States. AMLI is committed to customer service and providing its residents a worry-free, high-value living experience in our communities. AMLI ® is a brand name representing high quality, exceptional service and superior value. AMLI's mission is to "Provide an Outstanding Living Environment for Our Residents."  Each day, every person who is part of the AMLI FAMLI is focused on doing all he or she can to achieve AMLI’s mission. www.amli.com

About the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture:

The Burke Museum is the Washington State Museum of natural history and culture. The Burke Museum creates a better understanding of the world and our place in it. The museum is responsible for Washington State collections of natural and cultural heritage and sharing the knowledge that makes them meaningful. The Burke welcomes a broad and diverse audience and provides a community gathering place that nurtures life-long learning and encourages respect, responsibility, and reflection. The museum is located on the University of Washington campus, at the corner of NE 45th St. and 17th Ave. NE. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm on first Thursdays. Admission: $10 general, $8 senior, $7.50 student/ youth. Admission is free to children four and under, Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff. Admission is free to the public on the first Thursday of each month. Prorated parking fees are $15 and partially refundable upon exit if paid in cash. Call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum.org. The Burke Museum is an American Alliance of Museums-accredited museum and a Smithsonian Affiliate.

About Mastodons & Mammoths:

Mastodons and mammoths are ancient elephant relatives that once inhabited the ice-free lands of North America. They lived here at the same time, but ate different plant foods and so did not compete with each other. Both became extinct as the glaciers receded at the end of the Ice Ages, between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago.

Mammoths, which were larger than mastodons and much more closely related to elephants, arrived in North America from Asia about 2 million years ago. Columbian Mammoths grew to 12 feet at the shoulder, taller than woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) and about the size of the modern Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Their very long tusks curved down from the face, then upward at the ends. Columbian mammoths were herbivores, with a diet that included grasses and conifers. They chewed grass with large, flat, washboard-like teeth that are very similar to the teeth of modern elephants.

(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274