Know what this is?
It is an ivory canine tooth that is in the top jaw of an elk. Anciently, elk had tusks that were ivory. Over long expanses of time, the tusks disappeared and antlers formed. The elk have two ivory tooth buds in their upper jaw. Remember, elk and deer have no teeth in the front of their upper jaw; just a hard pallet.
Antlers are living tissue. Velvet covers a growing antler and provides it with blood, supplying oxygen and nutrients. Once the antler is grown, the velvet dries and gets scrapped off and the antler dies eventually turning into bone. Around March the antlers drop off and over the next 4 months grows a new set of fully grown antlers. When the first antler drops, the second will drop off within 24 hours.
These are photos that I took on February 15, 2011 of an Elk at Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim. In this photo he is grunting because he wants to cross the street and motorists keep stopping to get a photo and blocking his way. If you look closely at his open, grunting mouth you can see one of the ivory teeth. Right click on the photo to zoom in.
More photos of that same elk.
The elk just about ripped that pine sapling out of the ground.
This was a fun photo opportunity. I walked parallel with the elk as it walked down the side of the road trying to cross. I was about 25 feet from the elk on the other side of some plants that were growing along the road.
What a beautiful animal!