A woman trawling the beaches of California found herself in possession of an ancient animal tooth, before losing it on the very same sandy dunes.
Jennifer Schuch came across the foot-long tooth of an ancient mastodon and photographed the massive find, but the fossil soon vanished and a search party got underway.
The "kind of weird" looking tooth was found, lost and found again in a mad few days for the woman, who found the molar of the extinct creature while on a Memorial Day walk.
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It took a jogger and a media frenzy to find the tooth once more, an "extremely important" find finally made on the beach.
Schuch, recalling how it was she came about the mastodon tooth, said: "I was on one side of the creek and this lady was talking to me on the other side and she said what’s that at your feet.
"It looked kind of weird, like burnt almost."
While her discovery may have been fumbled and confusing, it prompted Wayne Thompson, a palaeontology collections advisor, to contact Schuch about the "extremely important" find.
But Schuch briefly lost the find, returning to the beach to see it had been removed, and if it were not for jogger Jim Smith, it may have been gone for good.
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A social media request posted by Thompson prompted a search, and jogger Jim said he stumbled onto the tooth on one of his regular beach jogs.
He has since donated the tooth to the Museum of Natural History in Santa Cruz, with the molar deemed to be from an adult mastodon.
Museum representative Liz Broughton said: "Jim told us that he had stumbled upon it during one of his regular jogs along the beach, but wasn’t sure of what he had found until he saw a picture of the tooth on the news."
Schuch has since ordered herself a replica mastodon tooth necklace from Amazon to commemorate her initial find, saying: "You don't often get to touch something from history."
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