In the bank of a salty river near Beaufort rests the skeleton of a mammoth that died thousands of years ago.
That’s the story from John Taylor, a Charleston shark-tooth hunter who said he stumbled onto the rare mound of bones while diving. If what Taylor says is true, the finding could be of historical significance, state scientists say.
But there’s a hitch.
Taylor won’t tell state officials where he says he found the skeleton.
Taylor, a former Navy diver who sells fossils and shark’s teeth on the internet, said he isn’t talking until the state gives him a binding legal document that provides him rights to half the value of the mammoth bones. He worries that the state will take the fossil, estimated to be worth $500,000, without treating him fairly. He said the state is pressuring him to reveal the location by refusing to re-issue state licenses that he needs to dive for fossils.
For nearly three years, Taylor has kept the mammoth's location secret from the State Museum Commission and the University of South Carolina’s archaeology institute. “They just aren’t open to negotiation or compromise."