Denver Museum of Nature & Science Field Report from
Snowmass Village: Monday, November 9, 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: Three inches of fresh snow greeted Denver
Museum of Nature & Science excavation crews this morning in
Snowmass Village, Colorado, and more snow fell throughout the day.
The race against winter has officially begun.
One of the main areas of focus today is the removal of a beautiful
seven-foot mastodon tusk first discovered yesterday by Dane Miller,
the younger brother of Dr. Ian Miller, the Museum's curator of
paleontology. Dane Miller and several other volunteers form a team
nicknamed the "Blade Runners." Their job is to walk beside
bulldozers as they remove layers of sediment, watching for fossils
that are churned up by the bull dozer blade. The Blade Runners must
signal the drivers to stop before the fossils are crushed under the
bulldozer's treads. The younger Miller first spotted the mastodon
after a bulldozer blade clipped the tip of the tusk on
Today, other dig crews worked to excavate the tusk to prepare it
for "jacketing" in plaster of Paris and burlap. The mammoth and
mastodon tusks found at the Ziegler Reservoir fossil dig site are
especially fragile. The plaster jackets applied in the field
protect them as they are removed from the ground and transported to
the Museum in Denver. The jackets also prevent the tusks from
drying out too fast and shattering into pieces that cannot be
Also today, paleoecologists from the U.S. Geological Survey
visited the Ziegler Reservoir dig site to help Museum scientists
gain a better understanding of the stratigraphy of the sediments.
Their expertise should help explain how this ancient lake filled
with sediment, and how long that process took.
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
About the Denver Museum of Nature &
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