Researchers in northern Greece have uncovered two massive tusks of a prehistoric mastodon that roamed Europe more than 2-million years ago - tusks that could be the largest of their kind ever found.
The remains of the mastodon, which was similar to the woolly mammoth but had straighter tusks as well as different teeth and eating habits, were found in an area about 250 miles north of Athens.
One of the tusks measured 16-feet-4-inches long and the other was more than 15 feet long, the research team said. They were found with the animal's upper and lower jaws, which were still bearing teeth, and leg bones, said Evangelia Tsoukala, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Thessaloniki.
"To find a tusk 5 meters (more than 16 feet) long, that was a big surprise," Tsoukala told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from the site.
"It's a very significant find because with these sections of the skeleton, we can draw conclusions about this animal and its development," she added. "We are also looking for clues about its extinction."
Mastodons, an ancestor of the elephant, roamed Europe, Asia and North America, but how they became extinct remains a mystery. They are thought to have disappeared in Europe and Asia some 2-million years ago, but survived in North America until 10,000 years ago.