Radiologists at Naval Medical Center San Diego just got one of their most unusual patients ever: it’s 300 pounds, a half-million years old and once belonged to a Colombian Mammoth.
The ancient mammoth skull fossil was discovered six years ago at a construction site where the new Thomas Jefferson School of Law now exists.
Kesler Randall with the San Diego Natural History Museum said the museum’s PaleoServices Department reached out to officials at Naval Medical Center San Diego asking for help creating X-rays and possible CT scans of the skull to learn more about the species.
“Some of the information we’re interested in, we can’t see from just the exterior,” said Randall. “For this species of mammoth, which is the Colombian Mammoth, it’s the first time that a skull has been CT scanned. That’s pretty exciting.”
Randall said scientists will use the imagery to better describe the skull in a scientific publication and help put the species into a greater evolutionary context.
The data collected can be shared and viewed by other scientists worldwide, and could potentially be used to create a 3D print replica of the skull.
“We’re an academic and research center at Naval Medical Center San Diego, so we’re used to scanning in the pursuit of knowledge, and this is just one opportunity for us to do that,” said radiologist Richard Montgomery, M.D. who works at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
The scans produced Thursday are part of ongoing research. Museum officials said they plan to publish their findings. However, a publication date has not been decided.
If you want to see the mammoth skull fossil for yourself, it is on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park, on the third floor.