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Prehistoric mastodons called Halifax home

From Writings on the Wall, Fall 1993

Our Halifax, Nova Scotia, quarry has yielded yet another historic find: the bones of a juvenile mastodon. The juvenile is the first ever found in Canada and one of only six or seven found in the world.

This is the second mastodon found in the quarry; the bones of an adult mastodon were discovered two years ago. Both were unearthed by quarry worker Stanley McMullin who also participated in excavation of the finds.


"This has been one of the best things that every happened to me," Stanley said. "It's been very
rewarding."Stanley found a tusk and part of the jawbone of the adult mastodon in October 1991. Last July (1993), he found the left half of the juvenile's jawbone about 400 feet northeast of the first discovery.

Bob Grantham, curator of geology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History in Halifax, believes the area is an old riverbed that was blocked and turned into a series of sinkholes. Glaciers later covered the sinkholes, in effect creating a time capsule. The site is about 40-50 feet below surface level.

Stanley and scientists spent three weeks on a salvage discover of the juvenile mastodon – nicknamed "Baby Stanley" by the curator – with Stanley digging out the bones with his backhoe while museum employees supervised.

The juvenile's bones are partially petrified and much stronger than the adult mastodon, whose bones Bob describes as being "like bran muffins – very soft and brittle."

Mastodons first appeared in Africa some 40 million years ago and first came to the North American continent 14 million years ago. They became extinct 10,000 years ago.