McLean discovers prehistoric tooth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Today, in the 21st century, people of Butler County take it for granted that they are the dominant species.

However, several millions years ago, that wasn’t the case at all.

For anyone needing proof, just visit with Bob McLean, 59, who recently found a perfect tooth that belonged either to a mammoth or a mastodon.

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&uot;I did find it here in Butler County in a creek bed,&uot; McLean said. &uot;It was in water and you could see it from 20 feet away.&uot;

He is a self-described searcher of old things and is retired from the Internal Revenue Service where he worked for 30 years.

He and his wife retired here from Jacksonville.

As for the tooth, he sent off photos to get an idea of what it was he found.

"I sent pictures of the tooth to the geology department at both Auburn University and the University of Alabama,&uot; he said. &uot;I got two different responses.&uot;

He said one school said it was a wooly mammoth tooth and the other said it was a mastodon’s tooth.

&uot;One said a mammoth and one said a mastodon,&uot; he said.

They said they were very similar but couldn’t quite be sure.

Both said that it was a ‘keeper’ and that it was very unusual to find one in such perfect condition, including the roots and the enamel crown.&uot;

He said the Auburn professor was amazed that the tooth was so perfectly preserved including the enamel and the roots.

This is not the first tooth McLean has found in his years of searching.

&uot;I’ve found shark teeth and sting ray spines and crocodile teeth,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’ve got one tooth that is crooked but no one has been able to identify it. They think it is some type of early crocodile tooth.

I sent a picture of it to Columbus State University to a crocodile expert, but he wasn’t really sure what it was.&uot;

So where does he find these treasures of the past?

Just about anywhere.

&uot;The shark teeth were found down in McKenzie where they dug out the dirt when they widened the highway,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’ve found teeth at numerous places around the area.&uot;

He said he has had great luck in the McKenzie area and that is where he found his first shark teeth.

&uot;People would be surprised at what they can find because the stuff is out there,&uot; he said.

&uot;It can be found and you can usually find it just about any cut on the roadway.

You can find little shells and such.&uot;

McLean said the big tooth is his greatest find and he will keep looking.

He said others like him who enjoy searching have found similar items elsewhere. &uot;The teeth I found down in McKenzie are small, but one guy found a shark’s tooth as a big as your hand,&uot; he said. &uot;I think a shark that size would be pretty mean.&uot;

He said if he could luck up and find a tusk that it would be like the Super Bowl.

&uot;Or if I found a mastodon bone, now that would be kind of like a homerun.&uot;

McLean said he keeps the teeth and other finds in a drawer and he hopes to one-day find some way of displaying them.

&uot;I talked with a man from the Alabama Department of Archives and History and he said they would be interested in displaying it,&uot; he said.

&uot;I plan on taking it to him and discuss this with him when I get the opportunity.

The Alabama Museum of Natural History also expressed some interest in either displaying it or using it in some type of study.&uot;

He said he hopes to get it on display so people can see what they have around them covered up.

&uot;I really want to get it on display, because I think it is a crime not to display it,&uot; he said.

And for those who would be interested in talking more about McLean’s finds, don’t be shy.

He said he enjoys the opportunity to discuss his finds, and he looks for reasons to get the stuff out and show it off.