Cousins discover mastodon bone in Shelby Township

14,000 year-old bone found along stream


SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Two cousins exploring a stream in Shelby Township found something very old. It was more than 10,000 years-old.

 Eleven-year-old cousins Eric Stamatin and Andrew Gainarlu found what they at first thought was an odd-looking rock, but they looked at it more closely.

"At first it just looked like a rock but it had a hole in it, so we thought it was a bone," Stamatin said.

Cranbrook Institute of Science geologist John Zawiskie confirmed it was a bone belonging to the extinct American Mastodon.

Zawiskie identified it as an axis bone.

"The bone is likely between 13,000 and 14,000 years-old and is the fourth record of the American mastodon from Macomb County.  The axis is one of two specialized vertebrae that secure the head to the vertebral column, and judging from the size of this find the animal was probably an adult around 8 or 9 feet high at the shoulders and weighing roughly 6 tons," Zawiskie said.

Mastodons became extinct about 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last glacial period.

The steam where the cousins found the bone is near 24 Mile and Dequindre Roads and cuts through the sand and gravel of an old glacial lake plain, near the source of the Clinton River.

The cousins were joined by a team from the Cranbrook Institute of Science in another exploration of the site, but found no other bones.

The mastodon is the official state fossil of Michigan.