Ancient walrus tusk set for public debut

Posted March 31, 2010, at 8:01 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — A walrus tusk with possibly ancient origins found in 2008 near the Stillwater River will be on display Friday to the public for the first time.

University of Maine professor George Jacobson will give a talk, “Climate Change and Maine’s Landscapes, Past and Future,” during the Orono Land Trust’s 24th annual meeting at the Orono Community Center, also known as the Keith Anderson Building.

The events will start at 6:30 p.m. with a social gathering followed by a 7 p.m. corporate membership meeting and then Jacobson’s address. The entire affair is free and open to the public.

“George was lined up to talk ahead of time, and then this came up,” said Orono Land Trust board member Peggy Markson. “We discovered this correlation with what had been found, and we thought it would tie in well and be a great chance to debut the tusk for the town of Orono.”

Markson said Jacobson will pass around the tusk so people can hold it for themselves.

The tusk was found by local businessman Linwood White, who was digging a hole for a post as a volunteer with the land trust in 2008 when he unearthed what he thought was a tooth.

White showed his find to various UMaine professors and researchers, who believed it to be a walrus tusk.

Jacobson, a professor of biology, ecology and climate change, also examined the 3-inch-long, 1-inch-wide piece of tusk and sent it recently to colleagues at Illinois State Museum who confirmed it was a walrus tusk.

The tusk’s age is unknown, but Jacobson has said it could be at least 12,000 years old, which is approximately when the glaciers began to retreat at the end of the Ice Age.

“I think people have definitely been talking about it, and they’d love to see it,” Markson said. “This is a chance to examine it close up and first hand.”

The walrus tusk likely will be incorporated as part of an exhibit at UMaine’s Hudson Museum.

The Orono Land Trust was created in 1986 and owns, protects or manages nearly 1,000 acres in the towns of Orono, Old Town and Veazie.

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