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The Strangest Thing Parker Schnabel Ever Unearthed On Gold Rush

While it may sound romantic and adventurous, mining for gold is anything but, as evidenced by Discovery's hit reality show "Gold Rush." It's a rough and tumble career choice involving hard labor, heavy machinery, treacherous environmental conditions, and often 75 hour work weeks. The show follows the fortunes of modern-day prospectors Rick Ness, Parker Schnabel, Tony Beets, and Fred Lewis as they brave the wilderness in a high-risk and high-stakes hunt for gold in locations such as Alaska, Colorado, and the Klondike.

Many characters have come and gone over the show's eleven-year run, but crew boss Parker Schnabel quickly stood out as a fan favorite since his first appearance as a teenager in Season 1. Schnabel is also one of the most successful miners in "Gold Rush" history. He's made record-breaking finds and has an estimated net worth of $10 million. Schnabel has grown up with the show, simultaneously learning the skills required to be successful in both the gold mining and the reality TV businesses. In both cases, he's demonstrated the ability to be hard-working, versatile, and ready to deal with the unexpected on a daily basis.

Schnabel's modern-day hunt for gold harkens back to the pioneering 1800s, but he once made an unexpected discovery older than the original gold rush prospectors. Way, way older in fact.

Parker Schnabel unearthed mammoth tusks in his hunt for gold

It might not be entirely unexpected for mining operations to unearth the occasional curiosity or two, but Parker Schnabel's team once excavated an archeological find of gargantuan proportions. In an interview with The Malestrom, Schnabel revealed that he and his crew once dug up a set of well-preserved woolly mammoth tusks. "We've found some mammoth tusks, which was really cool," Schnabel said. "They're preserved because they're ivory and they were buried in the permafrost so the weather doesn't really get to them. Some of those came out in beautiful shape."

The majestic woolly, or Siberian, mammoth roamed the earth until around 5,000 years ago (via britannica.com), becoming extinct at the end of the last ice age. Well-preserved remains are relatively abundant, especially in the Arctic and Siberian regions. In fact, there is sufficient surviving DNA material that there are even attempts planned to bring back the woolly mammoth via genetic resurrection (via The New York Times).

Until that day comes, mammoth fossils and intact tusks make for valuable and exotic collectibles. Parker Schnabel certainly thinks so, as he opted to hold on to his tusk-haul. "I usually keep them," he revealed to The Malestrom. "You're allowed to sell them, you just need a couple of permits to export them out of the territory, but I think they're so cool I had to keep them."