Jurassic jackpot: Family finds mammoth remains worth thousands

Joseph and Andrea Nassuk decided to go bone hunting after the big storms of last month stirred up the coastline of western Alaska.
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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ELIM, Alaska (KTUU/CNN) - A family hiking in Alaska after devastating storms swept through the region last month has made a mammoth discovery.

The historic storm that slammed into western Alaska weeks ago impacted thousands, destroying property and upending lives. But that same storm revealed what was once covered.

Joseph Nassuk and his wife, Andrea, are from Elim, Alaska. The couple was looking for bones and artifacts two weeks ago when they hit the Jurassic jackpot.

“We were walking maybe about 35 yards apart. She [Andrea] yelled that she found a bone. I walked up to her, and it was over half her height. I got all excited,” Joseph Nassuk said.

He took a photo of Andrea Nassuk holding the bone up, showcasing just how large the bone was.

“As I was lifting it out of the mud, I thought to myself it’s kind of heavy,” Andrea Nassuk said. “I kept lifting it, I told my husband I found a huge bone, he asked if it was full, I looked at it, and I said, ‘Yes.’

The mammoth femur was about as large as the couple’s son.

Incredibly, Joseph Nassuk said this was his wife’s first time hiking, but the find wasn’t just beginner’s luck.

“We’ve found everything from toe bones, vertebrae, parts of skulls. We found another bone, but it was broken,” he said.

The mammoth bone isn’t even the most impressive find. Joseph said they also found a blue mammoth tusk.

“We walked across the bay after Merbok and found this 105-pound, 7-foot blue tusk,” he said.

The tusk is extremely rare. Only 2% of fossilized tusks are blue because of vivianite, an iron phosphate that’s not only rare but valuable.

“Depending on the state and wholeness, [it’s worth] somewhere upwards between $20,000 and $70,000,” Joseph Nassuk said.

The big blue find could bring some life-changing money.

“It’s a huge boost for us,” Andrea Nassuk said.

The couple has been married for four years with four kids. They said they could certainly use the money.

“We’re living in an apartment, and we’re hoping to build a house,” Joseph Nassuk said.

After the recent storms demolished some homes, Joseph and his family hope to use their mammoth find to help rebuild at least one home for themselves.