Denver Museum of Nature & Science Excavation Crews Discover a Second Mammoth at Snowmass Village Fossil Dig Site

Denver Museum of Nature & Science Field Report from Snowmass Village: Monday, November 8, 2010

Note to Reporters and Editors: Every afternoon, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will issue an update about the fossil excavation taking place at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado. In addition to this e-mail, watch for another e-mail with links to the still images shot today, and a third e-mail that will allow you to download video.   

Today: Dig crews from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science discovered a second Columbian mammoth at the Ziegler Reservoir Ice Age fossil dig site today. The animal was found in the top of a peat layer not far from the first mammoth uncovered at the site on October 14. After several hours of excavation, dig crews have identified the mammoth's jaw, teeth, and tusks at the front of its skull. 

Besides the second mammoth, excavation crews had good luck finding tusks today. Right next to the newly discovered mammoth, dig crews found a small tusk fragment, possibly from a mammoth. If confirmed, the mammoth count at the dig site would be three. Another crew working alongside bull dozers in a different location of the dig site recovered a tusk from an American mastodon. 

Also today, Dr. Dan Fisher, a mastodon expert from the University of Michigan, took one final look at the first Columbian mammoth found on October 14 before leaving to return home. The Museum crew has been taking an archaeological approach to the dig using a grid to guide the excavation of peat from around the bones. 

Now that much of the mammoth has been exposed, scientists are getting a better perspective about the bones in the ground and they are finding an unusual pattern. Crews have unearthed the mammoth's pelvis and have found that a whole section of the mammoth's neck is lying in the middle of the pelvis. Dig crews have also found ankle bones, ribs, one in-place tusk and a portion of the skull. 

Based upon analysis of the specimen conducted by Dr. Fisher, the size and shape of the tusk relative to the size of the other body elements indicate the mammoth was a young female.  

Media Availability: Dr. Ian Miller, Dr. Steve Holen and Dr. Kirk Johnson, the Museum's chief curator and Vice President of Research and Collections will be available for phone interviews late today by appointment.

For additional information about the excavation, interview clips, video clips and still images from the site, please check the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's home page and press page. 

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About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region's leading resource for informal science education. A variety of engaging exhibits, discussions and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the natural wonders of Colorado, Earth and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205.  To learn more about the Museum, check www.dmns.org, or call 303-370-6000.

Many of the Museum's educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by generous funding from the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District.

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