THE DALLES, Ore. -- A mammoth discovery was made in Eastern Oregon earlier this month.

Researchers said they discovered part of a mammoth tusk in a hillside in the Morrow County town of Ione, just east of The Dalles.

The tusk initially was thought to be a tree branch, but a science teacher from the nearby high school checked it out and called in some paleontology specialists.

It turned out to be a pretty nice piece of tusk, probably a mammoth tusk, said University of Oregon paleobiologist Ed Davis. It is about 8 to 10 inches in diameter and we got probably between 10 and 15 inches of tusk preserved.

A plastic jacket was molded around the fragile tusk to help protect it before it was removed from the hillside. Exact measurements were not available.

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