Denver Museum of Nature & Science Educator Speaks to 5,800 Students about Mammoth and Mastodon Discovery Over Four Days

Museum to Hold Press Conference to Reveal New Discoveries on Friday

Denver Museum of Nature & Science Field Report from Snowmass Village: Thursday, November 4, 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.   

Please Double Check Your Facts: It has been erroneously reported several times that scientists have discovered woolly mammoths in Snowmass Village. That is incorrect. Scientists have found one juvenile Columbian mammoth so far. Woolly mammoths and Columbian mammoths are different species. Woolly mammoths have never been found in Colorado. 

Today: Denver Museum of Nature & Science educator Samantha Sands visited Glenwood Springs Elementary School and Coal Ridge High School in Newcastle, Colorado, completing her fourth day of educational outreach about the mammoth and mastodon discoveries at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado.  Between Monday and Thursday of this week, Sands has visited with 5,800 students at six schools in the Roaring Fork Valley. She brought several of the bones recovered from the Ziegler Reservoir site, photos of the dig, and touchable mammoth specimens from the Museum's education collections. Sands' colleagues in the Youth and Teacher Programs Department at the Museum have nicknamed her "Samammoth" in recognition of her outstanding educational outreach efforts.

At the dig site, Museum crews are working to complete excavation of a large tusk. This morning they finished creating a plaster "jacket" for the tusk, which will protect it once it is removed from the ground. In addition, dig crews cleared more sediment away from a large skull found at the dig site yesterday. Scientists believe it is a mastodon skull. A third Museum crew working on the excavation of a juvenile Columbian mammoth started to uncover a rib and some other large bones at that area of the dig site. 

Also today, two visiting scientists are arriving in Colorado to lend their expertise to the excavation. Dr. Dan Fisher from the University of Michigan is a renowned mastodon expert, and Dr. Russ Graham from Pennsylvania State University is an expert on ice age mammals. Dr. Graham used to be the chief curator of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Press Conference Details:

Friday, November 5, at 10 a.m. Base Village in Snowmass Village

Representatives from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will announce the latest developments at the mammoth and mastodon excavation site near Ziegler Reservoir in Snowmass Village. Additionally, the brief project overview will outline the following:

  • Scientific significance of the site
  • Key findings to-date
  • Next steps in the project
  • Partnership with the Snowmass community

The Museum began excavation of the site on Tuesday, November 2, after reaching agreement last week with the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District for the donation of the fossils. Over the weekend, Museum scientists confirmed at least three mastodons and one juvenile Columbian mammoth, plus parts of other undetermined mammoths and/or mastodons at the site, making this one of the most significant scientific discoveries in Colorado history.


  • Base Village on Friday, November 5, at 10 a.m.
  • Directions from Denver: I-70 West approximately 170 miles. Take exit 116 toward Glenwood Springs/Aspen/CO-82 E exit. Follow signs through Glenwood Springs to Hwy. 82, south toward Aspen approximately 30 miles. Turn right on Brush Creek Road, follow signs to Snowmass Village for approximately 5 miles
  • The press conference will last for 30-40 minutes
  • Media should check in. Members of the general public are also invited to attend.

The following representatives from the Museum will be onsite for brief statements and Q&A with reporters (brief Q&A with community members to follow, if time allows):

  • George Sparks - President & CEO
  • Kirk Johnson, PhD - Vice President of Research & Collections, Chief Curator
  • Ian Miller, PhD - Curator of Paleontology
  • Steve Holen, PhD - Curator of Archaeology and Mammoth Expert


  • Display of select fossils from the site
  • Supporting graphics (site map, profile of rock/sediment layers, other drawings)
  • Discussion of progress to-date and newest developments by scientists involved with the excavation

Media Availability:  Dr. Ian Miller 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. 


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, 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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