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Fire3
Hi All

i have recently found what appears to be a Mammoth tusk t on my local beach!
any ideas on how I should go about preserving it?


55C6B61F-CAAD-4B61-AB9A-3E80250CE88A.jpeg  
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Brittle Star
Which beach. I thought mammoth tusks were whiteish 
JW

 Never ask a star fish for directions
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Barrow Museum
Most important is don't let it dry out.  Keep it in a wet cloth or blanket until you have decided how best to preserve it.
I have a 1m long chunk of tusk from a Long-Tusked Elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) which was found in a gravel deposit near Didcot.  The method I successfully used was to preserve it (and other Pleistocene bones) using PVA.  You should use a specially-prepared PVA which has neutral pH and a high plasticiser (20%) content (Woodworking glue might work, but is slightly acidic and low plasticiser).  This is how mine worked out...

Make a bath for the tusk using a sheet of waterproof plastic and some sandbags or similar to form the sides.  You want it to fit the tusk's profile to avoid unnecessary use of PVA.  The PVA should be diluted with distilled water to make a suspension of milky consistency.  Leave the tusk immersed in its bath for a couple of weeks or a month, so the PVA suspension thoroughly invades the micro-porosity of the tusk.  Agitate the mix every day or two. Then you can very slowly start the drying process.  Initially, I lifted the broad end out of the bath, properly supported, and each day poured a little PVA suspension onto the top, to allow it to replace any air gaps as they dried out.  This went on for maybe a couple of weeks more.  After the entire tusk seemed indurated with PVA, it was wrapped loosely in plastic and left in as stable a place as possible, where it would not be disturbed and could dry out really slowly.  So, it went in the loft.  After about 6 months, I felt able to remove it and am pleased to report that the tusk was still as solid as the day it emerged from the gravel, even "ringing" a little when tapped with my knuckle.

Yours looks to be a remarkably well-preserved example from the single photo.  Are you sure it is fossil and are you prepared to reveal which beach it was found on and from what formation?  It might help us fine-tune the preservation.  If left untreated, it will likely as not split, warp and disintegrate.

Others might replace the PVA with a slow application of Paraloid B72, in a suitable solvent (Acetone, Toluene) but these are not so friendly to use and I have not actually tried the process so you would need to consult a museum conservator for advice (which wouldn't be a bad idea anyway).

By the way, the simplest way to determine if you have the cold-climate Mammoth or the warm interglacial Palaeoloxodon is to rock the tusk.  The mammoth has a helical spiral and will rock back and forth, whereas the Palaeoloxodon is curved in a single plane and will lie flat.

Good luck with it.
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ophthalmosaur
Great looking tusk. The bark is often a dark colour. Agree re. preservation with dilute PVA solution and gradual drying and application of the solution by some method. When the whole thing is completely dry and treated with PVA then Paraloid B72 can be used to further stabilise the fossil. 
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Elbert
Hello, cracking find!...of wich you have to make sure it does not start to actually crack; if this tusk comes from the beach it is paramount that you desalinate it before stabilizing it with something like Paraloid.
If you don`t, the salt will cristalize when it dries and destroy the tusk from within.
To desalinate, keep the piece in a bath/ tub filled with fresh water and change the water weekly; it will take aprox. 6-10 weeks, depending on the temperature, the warmer the faster...

greets, Bert
the search is as valuable as the finds...
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