Maine Fishermen Auction Woolly Mammoth Tooth Fossil to Help Ukraine


KITTERY, Maine – New England Fishmongers crew members fondly recall two years ago that a VHS copy of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” the 1994 film starring Jim Carrey, was pulled from the waters. However, more recently, two miles off the Newburyport coast, fishmongers have recovered an object thousands of years older than the cult classic.

Captain Asher Molyneaux and deckhands extracted a woolly mammoth tooth fossil while dredging scallops with a 47ft F/V Finlander II just before Christmas.

Displaying the fossilized tooth at the storefront of the company’s “Gourmet Alley” store, which opened in October, Fishmongers captain and co-owner Tim Rider said a University of New Hampshire paleontologist checked the fossil and said it was probably between 10,000 and 15,000 years old.

Hoping to give the fossil a better home, fishmongers in New England are auction the tooth and donate all proceeds to the World Central Kitchenwhich serves hot meals in Poland to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

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“We found out what it was through Google,” Rider said. “Since then, we have allowed children and families to come and see it and talk about it. Basically everyone asked what we were going to do with it and in light of everything going on in the world right now… the best thing was to donate it to charity.

Roaming the globe for millions of years, the population of woolly mammoths died out around 4,000 years ago. Research published last fall in the journal ‘Nature’ suggests that climate change caused the extinction of mammoths, which were about the size of a modern African elephant, contradicting the belief that humans caused their extinction by hunting.

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Nearly two weeks after the Russian military invaded Ukraine, which declared independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Rider said he believed that every individual effort to helping the war-torn country and its people collectively meant a lot.

“I’m a fisherman, but any time you see families and children struggling in this type of situation, you really try to be grateful for what you have and do what you can to help,” said- he declared.

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New England Fishmongers captain Tim Rider talks about a woolly mammoth tooth fossil found in the waters off Newburyport in December.  Rider wants to auction off the tooth and donate all proceeds to benefit Ukrainian citizens suffering from the war in their country.

Rider, who co-owns New England Fishmongers with fellow commercial fisherman Kayla Cox, said that throughout his career he has worked with several charity food banks, a reminder of the times he struggled in the life.

“No pun intended, but it kept me balanced in this business to do charity work,” he said.

New England Fishmongers Captain Tim Rider holds a woolly mammoth tooth fossil found in the waters off Newburyport in December.  Rider wants to auction off the tooth and donate all proceeds to benefit Ukrainian citizens suffering from the war in their country.

Founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen’s story is rooted in Haiti, where Andres and volunteers traveled in 2010 to cook for citizens displaced by the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the island.

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Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the World Central Cuisine has set up hot meal stations at eight border crossings in Poland and is preparing meals in eight Ukrainian cities, according to its website. The organization has also employed volunteers to help Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Moldova and Hungary.

A few inches longer, and certainly much heavier, than fishmongers’ baskets of delicious fish and chips and fish tacos, the grooved fossil was kept soaked in water at the restaurant and fish market for preservation purposes.

A woolly mammoth tooth fossil found in the waters off Newburyport sits in the middle of a lunch at the New England Fishmongers restaurant and fish market in Kittery.  Captain Tim Rider wants to auction the tooth and donate all proceeds to benefit Ukrainian citizens suffering from the war in their country.

While Rider said he thought finding an “Ace Ventura” Pet Detective “VHS was more interesting than the fossil and far less potentially dangerous than the phosphorus flare he found as a young fisherman, the tooth could have an unprecedented auction advantage.

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“He’s in pretty good shape. I’ve seen other people have smaller pieces, so they came out intact, which is truly a miracle,” Rider said. “It’s pretty tough gear that we use, so I’m surprised it didn’t break on the way up.”

Here’s How To Bid On The Woolly Mammoth Tooth Fossil

The fishmongers auction for the fossilized tooth, set up via eBaywill continue until Sunday afternoon, March 13. To bid, go to ebay.com and search for “mammoth tooth molar”.

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