Shark-tooth diver Bill Eberlein experienced a first in his lifetime when he found a mastodon jaw embedded in the mud of a river bed.
"I have been diving in coastal Georgia rivers for over 15 years for prehistoric shark teeth, but this is the first time I have discovered a mastodon jaw," Eberlein said.
Mastodons roamed North America during the Ice Age, and it is believed that they last roamed what is now the Southern United States 75,000 years ago. They finally became extinct throughout the continent 10,000 years ago. The sturdy, elephant-like animals were about 9 feet high at the shoulder and weighed between four and five tons.
Eberlein is a professional diver who normally finds prehistoric teeth from sharks that became extinct more than 2 million years ago. His hunting grounds in the muddy waters of coastal Georgia normally have zero to 3 inches of visibility.
A former teacher turned entrepreneur, he got hooked on diving 25 years ago and now spends his days diving for ancient megalodon teeth that can be up to 6 inches long.
Eberlein said he quickly realized he had something rare when he felt the mastodon jaw.
"I was doing my normal dive, when I felt what I thought was a fossilized log. But when I felt the molars, I knew I had found something very rare," the diver said. "I have found individual mastodon teeth occasionally in the past, but this is very exciting. It was really heavy to bring to the surface, after I dug it out of the mud, and weighs about 60 pounds."
For more information and photos, go to Megateeth Fossils website at www.megateeth.com.