Of all of the news history about Salesforce Transit Center and Maria Ayerdi Kaplan, perhaps the most fascinating one involves, of all things, a Columbian Mammoth Tooth. That’s right: a part of a Columbian mammoth that lived between 8,000 and 150,000 years ago and was approximately 12-14 feet tall, weighing between five and 10 tons.
On September 10, 2012, crane operator, Brandon Valasik, on the Transbay Transit Center jobsite in downtown San Francisco, found the fossil tooth. It was reportedly 110 feet below street level and 100 feet below sea level, and was immediately recognized by Valasik as something unusual.
“Finding the mammoth tooth on our construction site was one of the most exciting and memorable historical events of our project. We are simultaneously preserving our history while building for the future.” said then-Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) Executive Director Maria Ayerdi Kaplan. “We applaud the California Academy of Sciences for placing the mammoth tooth on display for the public to view and learn about downtown San Francisco’s natural history.”
The TJPA donated the tooth to the California Academy of Sciences on September 20, where it was cleaned, preserved, and added to the research fossil collection. The tooth is an upper left molar of a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) and was discovered in two pieces; the front third of the tooth was missing.