Snowmastodon Project Images

All Images are ©Denver Museum of Nature & Science



Digging Snowmastodon: Discovering an Ice Age World in the Colorado Rockies
is a first-person account of the historic Ice Age fossil find near Snowmass Village. The book describes the events surrounding the amazing discovery, the excitement and emotion of the dig itself, and the colorful cast of characters who each played important roles as the story unfolded. 

Acrylic painting of Ziegler Reservoir landscape by Jan Vriesen, depicts about 130,000 years ago, after the formation of the lake basin by a glacier that spilled out of Snowmass Creek Valley.

Acrylic painting of Ziegler Reservoir landscape by Jan Vriesen, depicts about 120,000 years ago, when the area was dominated by mastodon, giant ground sloths, and bison.

Acrylic painting of Ziegler Reservoir landscape by Jan Vriesen, depicts 60,000 to 45,000 years ago, when the area was dominated by mammoth, camels, and deer.

Acrylic painting of Ziegler Reservoir landscape by Jan Vriesen, depicts November 15, 2010, as the first phase of fossil excavation was concluding.

Acrylic painting of Ziegler Reservoir landscape by Jan Vriesen, depicts Summer 2012 after the dam was completed and the reservoir was filled.

L-R: Tim Seeber (volunteer) and Malcolm Bedell (volunteer) hold a large mastodon femur (Issued 7/7/2011)

Interns finish plastering a large bone (Issued 7/7/2011)

Paul Vallejos (Volunteer) holds a mastodon tibia he found (Issued 7/7/2011)

Crews flip a large mastodon skull that has been capped with plaster (Issued 7/7/2011)

Photo of Ziegler reservoir (dig site) from Snowmass mountain (Issued 7/7/2011)

Kaitlin Stanley (Intern) and Dr. Kirk Johnson clean a mastodon tusk under a tent to protect the tusk from sunlight (Issued 6/30/2011)

Josh Smith (Plasterer) applies plaster strips to a scapula (believed to be mammoth) as Gussie MacCracken (Intern) prepares plaster in the background (Issued 6/30/2011)

Teen Science Scholars L-R: Ashley Packard, Brenda Chinnery, Dalton Meyer examine material collected from dig site for micro fossils (Issued 6/30/2011)

L-R: Dr. Ian Miller, Dr. Joe Sertich, Dr. Kirk Johnson looks for bones uncovered by large excavator (Issued 6/30/2011)

L-R: Noah Fisher (Visiting scientist), Gussie MacCracken work on a large mastodon scapula

Dr. Nicole Garneau (staff) excavates a mastodon rib (Issued 6/30/2011)

Dr. Kirk Johnson studies soil layers in a large ditch (Issued 6/30/2011)

Dr. Joe Sertich holds a large mammoth humerus (Issued 6/30/2011)

National Geographic filming at dig site near the ancient shoreline area (Issued 6/24/2011)

Hendrick Poinar (Visiting scientist - McMaster University, Canada) cuts bone samples for DNA testing (Issued 6/24/2011)

Dr. Richard Stucky examines a mammoth bone (Issued 6/24/2011)

Charles Nelson digs out a bison jaw (Issued 6/24/2011)

Ron Carsten (Volunteer - Colorado Mountain College) and Heather Finlayson (DMNS preparator) dig up a mastodon radius (Issued 6/24/2011)

Visitors at the Ice Age Spectacular in Snowmass Village look at bones found at site (Issued 6/24/2011)

Kids at the Ice Age Spectacular in Snowmass Village wear elephant and mammoth costumes (Issued 6/24/2011)

Interns L-R: Brittany Grimm, Tyler Kerr and Gussie MacCracken uncover trees on the discovered reservoir ancient shoreline (Issued 6/24/2011)

Visitors to the Ice Age Spectacular in Snowmass Village speak with a Museum educator about the finds. Touch sample table (Issued 6/24/2011)

Kids at the Ice Age Spectacular in Snowmass Village dig for fossils (Issued 6/24/2011)

Kirk Johnson first seeing Ziggy the Sloth's skull. (Issued 6/17/2011)

Georgina Levey, Hannah O'Neill, Kristin Lindman with their wall of bone and boulders. (Issued 6/17/2011)

Alice Steindler with a small bird bone she just found. (Issued 6/17/2011)

Artists Gary Stabb and Ray Troll uncovering a vertebra bone. (Issued 6/17/2011)

Kimberly Hannigan uncovering a part of a limb bone. (Issued 6/17/2011)

Ray Troll with a large mastodon tooth. (Issued 6/17/2011)

Liz Miller (volunteer) digs/holds mastodon tooth (Issued 6/14/2011)

Lunch break (Issued 6/14/2011)

Bison tooth (Issued 6/14/2011)

Dr. Kirk Johnson digs on mastodon tusk marked by red flags (Issued 6/14/2011)

Detail of micro fossils found in sediment from dig site (Issued 6/14/2011)

Bethany Williams (DMNS) catalogues fossils in the conservation area (Issued 6/14/2011)

Bone from first horse found at the reservoir (metatarsal) (Issued 6/14/2011)

Dr. Kirk Johnson points to tip of an approx. 7' mastodon tusk he uncovered (Issued 6/14/2011)

Volunteer Jana McKeeman with a mastodon humerus at the dig site near Snowmass Village. (Issued 6/10/2011)

Museum staff member Paula Meadows with a sloth claw she discovered. (Issued 6/10/2011)

Museum scientist Ian Miller monitors a excavator at the Ice Age fossil find. (Issued 6/10/2011)

The crew races the clock to uncover more than 1,700 fossils so far this spring. (Issued 6/10/2011)

Josh Smith works on the plaster jacket of a recent discovery. (Issued 6/10/2011)

Kaitlin Stanley holds a vertebra. (Issued  6/7/2011)

Josh Smith, Bryan Small, Becky Benzie, Joe Sertich and Steve Mohr work to move a mastodon pelvis in its jacket. (Issued  6/7/2011)

Lorrie McWhinney , Steve Wagner and Gussie MacCracken work on the moraine level of the lakebed. (Issued  6/7/2011)

A mastodon vertebra from the Ice Age site. (Issued  6/2/2011)

Ira Kaye Kessel (volunteer) sifts through material from the dig site in search of small bones and other material. (Issued  6/2/2011)

A bison tooth (incisor) from the Ice Age site. (Issued  6/2/2011)

Top- Steve Mohr (volunteer) and Bryan Small (staff) at the site near a mastodon ulna (Issued  6/2/2011)

(Left to Right) Ian Miller, Jim Wilson (Aeon Laboratories), and Jeff Pigati (USGS) at the site near Snowmass Village, as the crew digs a trench and collect samples. (Issued  6/2/2011)

Kirk Johnson, Russ Graham and Christian Shorey review plans at the Ice Age dig site near Snowmass Village, where warm temperatures and clear skies have helped dry out the wet and muddy ground.

Adam Freierman uncovers one of the 546 fossils found to-date at the Ice Age site.

Kirk Johnson uncovers the lower jaw of a Mastodon, which is unusual because it features a pair of small lower jaw tusks known as mandibular tusks.

(Left to right) Rebecca Wiegert (volunteer), Liz Lacey (volunteer), and Heather Finlayson (staff) plaster a mastodon tusk.

Bryan Small (staff) works on a mastodon skull.

Overview of Ice Age dig site near Snowmass Village (lower left).

An excavator lifts a mastodon pelvis, which has been encased in plaster.

Staff, volunteers, and scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science dig at the Ice Age dig site near Snowmass Village.

Front-back: Tyler Kerr (intern) and Cyrus Green (volunteer) excavate a mastodon tusk.

A crew from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science excavates at the Ice Age fossil site near Snowmass Village.

Dr. Joe Sertich (the Museum's curator of vertebrate  paleontology) excavates a mastodon humerus.

L-R: Cody Newton Sr. (excavator), Adam Freierman (intern), Dr. Joe Sertich (the Museum's curator of vertebrate  paleontology), and Nathanial Fox (intern, back left) work near a mastodon pelvis (in foreground).

(L to R) Dr. Steve Holen, curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, gives a tour of the Ice Age fossil dig site near at Ziegler Reservoir to Dr. Russ Graham, an Ice Age mammal expert from the Pennsylvania State University, and Dr. Greg McDonald, a Museum research associate and expert on sloths.

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Dr. Steve Holen, curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, stands behind a giant Ice Age bison skull unearthed at the Museum's fossil dig at Ziegler Reservoir.

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A close-up of the tooth of the second mammoth discovered at the Ziegler Reservoir dig site. The distinctive pattern of mammoth teeth allowed scientists to make an immediate identification of the new fossil.

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Dr. Steve Holen, (L), curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, inspects a mammoth bone with Dr. Daniel Fisher, a mastodon expert from the University of Michigan.

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Museum volunteer Yanmin Huang carefully removes peat from around the bones of the discovery mammoth at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado.

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Dr. Kirk Johnson, chief curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, puts a protective layer of wet paper towels over a mastodon tusk, the first step in the "jacketing" process. The paper towels will eventually be covered with the plaster and burlap jacket.

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Cody Newton, an excavation crew chief from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, points to Ice Age bison bones in the ground.

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Carol Lucking, a collections assistant in the Department of Earth Science at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, uses a toothbrush to carefully clean the jaw of an Ice Age deer found in the sediments of Ziegler Reservoir.

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An assortment of American mastodon fossils, freshly washed after coming into the conservation lab from the field.

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Families at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science "Mammoth & Mastodon Madness" event in Snowmass Village in November enjoyed activities like toy fossil digs, assembling dinosaur puzzles, making mammoth and mastodon hats, and they learned more about the massive Ice Age beasts by touching actual specimens from the Museum's education collections.

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Residents of Roaring Fork Valley at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science "Mammoth & Mastodon Madness" event in Snowmass Village in November. The highlight of the event was the display of several of the mastodon and mammoth bones recovered from the Ziegler Reservoir Ice Age fossil dig site. The Museum's education staff answered questions about the fossils and described the excavation process while excited visitors snapped photos.

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A camel joins the list of Ice Age animals that once lived near Snowmass Village. One small clue -- the two-inch lower molar of a Camelops -- was discovered after the dig concluded for the season last fall.

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