Gomphothere to go on display at Pink Palace | Environment
Action News 5 received this press release from Pink Palace Museum:
Prehistoric find? Call the Pink Palace!
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (July 8, 2010) – All they wanted was a swimming pool. What the Leyden family of Brighton, TN got was the jawbone of a gomphothere.
Wednesday, June 1, 2010, a pool contractor’s backhoe uncovered what looked to be a dinosaur bone in the Leyden’s backyard. Conservator Roy Young from the Memphis Pink Palace Museum was called in and tentatively identified it as the jawbone and tooth of a gomphothere. These extinct, elephant-like animals are related to mastodons, but they lived far earlier. It could be anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 years old. Home and jawbone owners Jim and Deanne Leyden have graciously allowed the Pink Palace Museum to study the jawbone as well as make a cast of it. Director of Museums Steve Pike says this find is a first for the Mid-South, “We are extremely grateful to Mr. Leyden and very proud of our role in sharing this find. This appears to be the first time a fossil of this species has been found in our region. It shows once again that we have a lot to learn and the Pink Palace is a great place to do it.”
The excitement does not end there. Odell Horton is President and General Counsel of the Pink Palace Family of Museums’ Board of Trustees. Horton says the gomphothere helps the Museum tell a story. “The cast and, I hope, the actual fossil, will be a wonderful addition to our exhibits on the natural history of our region. We are planning all new exhibits right now and this will greatly enhance our ability to tell the story.”
In fact, this old bone is really part of new beginnings according to Memphis Parks Director Cindy Buchanan, “What a great find! It is wonderful and very timely since the Pink Palace Museum is planning new, permanent exhibits right now. The Museum is the perfect place to share this extraordinary fossil with parents, families, teachers, and kids.”
The Pink Palace Museum is the go-to place in the Mid-South for experts and exhibits about our past, whether a hundred years ago or millions of years ago. Pike says you can even come here to learn more about the gomphothere, “We are now planning how we can give the public the opportunity to watch the process of gently, carefully and safely extracting the tooth from its matrix.” We will soon announce the date the gomphothere will be on exhibit. It is always easy to have fun and get smart at the Pink Palace!