I really do get the most interesting mail sometimes.
So imagine my delight at finding these awaiting me today:
Elk have two teeth that are ivory-- these ones! Glee! I'm so excited! They'll need a good "scale and polish" and I'll be thinking of subject matter for scrimshaw. Thank you B!!!!!!!!!! :-)
My mom took one look and said "that's, um....weird." What can I say, some people just don't understand. ;-)
which two teeth are they? All of the teeth are not ivory are they? What is the story behind that? Did they evolve from a species that had tusks? Okay, GO, your turn now! -BM
No, just two, the canines. Not sure why...
They are remnants of tusks that the ancient ancestors of elk had. I guess they didn't need tusks AND huge antlers. My theory is that their ivories aid in bugling and that is why they still have them. Elephants kind of bugle too, don't they.... I would be curious to know if the European red deer has the same ivories since it is the Elk's closest living relative.
I forgot to mention that elk ivories were highly prized by indians and trappers, and used as a form of currency, and were once traded as fiercely as elephant ivory in Africa. Check out this article
Thanks for the info! Research will be done to satisfy my curiousity. I wonder about the role of those teeth in bugling and if it adds to the sound or resonation.
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