Michigan boy finds 'dragon's tooth' that belonged to a mastodon

A Michigan boy was hiking with his family recently when he came across something rocky that looked like a tooth. He initially thought it was a dinosaur tooth, but later, paleontologists discovered that the large molar belonged to a mastodon.
Julian Gagnon (6 years old) discovered the tooth while walking at Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve, Rochester Hills, Michigan. Detroit news outlet WDIV Local 4 reported Oct. 1 that Gagnon had found it.

Julian explained to WDIV that he felt something in his foot and grabbed it. Google searches at home suggested that the tooth was not likely to be a dinosaur's or a dragon's tooth, as Gagnon also suspected, according Michigan Live. WDIV reported that the tooth's shape and size resembled mastodon teeth. An analysis by scientists at the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology, (UMMP), confirmed this.

Related: Mastodon bones - Images of an early hunt

Mastodons, a distant relative of modern elephants, first appeared around 27 million to 30 millions years ago. They went extinct approximately 10,000 years ago. According to the San Diego Natural History Museum, they lived in forests all over the world. They grew up to 6 tons (6.54 metric tons) and were about 8-10 feet (22.5-3 meters) tall.

Julian discovered that the crown of the molar was approximately the same size as an adult human's fist. This ruled out other smaller species, Adam Rountrey of the UMMP collection management, explained to Michigan Live. Rountrey said that the crown was topped by "tall bumps", which distinguish mastodon teeth and those of mammoths. Rountrey also added that this is another extinct ice-age elephant relative, who lived alongside mastodons.

According to Mary Gagnon (his mother), Julian believed that this was his first discovery as a paleontologist. He was also curious if he would be elected president or receive a million dollars for his discovery, but he decided to take a tour of the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor Research Museums Center, and meet with museum paleontologists. Michigan Live reported.

Original publication on Live Science