Mammoth Fossil Lost in Storm is Returned to Owner

October 20, 2008

An elephant expert whose beach house on the Texas Gulf Coast was destroyed by Hurricane Ike is putting his collection back together — one tooth at a time.

Roy Davis left his home Sept. 11, two days before Ike slammed the Texas coast.

Davis, 57, said among the items scattered from his one-bedroom house were prized animal keepsakes from years of working at zoos.

“I probably had 30 pieces of modern-day elephants; they shed their teeth, they wear them down,” he said.

Two treasured teeth have been returned to Davis, following media reports about what appeared to be an unusual fossil find on the beach.

The headline-grabbing discovery was made by Lamar University educator Dorothy Sisk, who lived near Davis.

Sisk and a Lamar colleague, paleontologist Jim Westgate, went to the area a few days after the Sept. 13 hurricane to see what was left of her place. They came upon a 6-pound tooth that Westgate recognized as a fossil from a mammoth that was common to North America until around 10,000 years ago.

The second tooth, from an African elephant, was discovered on the beach Oct. 4 by a reporter doing a story on the original find.

Eventually, the teeth made it back to Davis after media accounts surfaced about a fossil possibly washing ashore.

Davis has had the mammoth’s tooth since the mid-1980s, when it turned up at a construction site in Texas near a zoo where he worked as head elephant trainer.

He said the African elephant tooth is a memento from an elephant named Timboo who died in the 1970s while he was working at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

As for the rest of his elephant items?

“They’re still somewhere on the beach down there,” said Davis, who has been making his interim home in a travel trailer since Ike. “None have shown up yet. They may. If they don’t, they turn up 10-15 years from now.”

Westgate was happy to return the mammoth fossil to Davis.

“All the houses in Caplen are no longer there. It’s kind of neat that he got something back after that total loss,” he said.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.