Time Travel with Otto

How a sunny day in April became a calculation of the past, present and future.

Otto with the replica of the mastodon molar, Spring 2021.

Otto and I sat on the porch and talked about the Mastodon molar that a former student found in 2008, and of the replica in the showcase in the upstairs hallway. Otto wanted to see the spot where the molar was found. We ventured down the wooden steps to the path in the woods. He asked me questions, adding and subtracting the answers in his head, and he took me on a journey to the earth’s past. By the walk’s end I had newfound reverence for the present moment.

What’s a Mastodon?

A big prehistoric animal that looked like a Woolly Mammoth.

How old is the tooth?

Around 70,000 years old.

That’s way before I was born!
How did it get here?

We don’t know for sure. I’m glad she found it.

When did she find it?

Former students holding the original mastodon molar, Spring 2008.

In 2008, in the Spring, on a day like today.

How many years ago was that?

13 years ago.

…I was born 6 years ago.
How did she find it?


She walked in the stream in Choco Taco and felt it with her foot!

How many years ago were those steps made?

19 years ago.

…That was six years before the tooth was found.


Where is the Megaladon?

I don’t know. Do you mean Mastadon?

Do you know what a Megaladon is?

Is it like a big prehistoric shark?

How long does a Megaladon get?

15 feet long maybe?

Can a person be 15 feet long?


Can a person be 10 feet long?


How long can a person be?

8 or 9 feet maybe.

Why is it called Choco Taco?

Because it’s in the shape of the ice cream treat Choco Taco.

Are there tacos for sale there?

I wish there were!
See these holes in the ground. The cicadas are going to come out of them soon. They were here 17 years ago.

…17 years ago I wasn’t born.

Why don’t they come out every 7 days?

They have an inner clock set on 17 years.

How long do they stay out in the air?

A couple weeks.

…A couple is 2 weeks!


…2 weeks is 14 days!


When will they come here?

In 3 weeks.

3 weeks is 21 days!
What time is it?

It’s 10 minutes before 4:00.

…My parents will be here in 25 minutes.
What time is it…exactly?


-Kim McCaig, Staff Member

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