Bone Count Reaches 546 at Ice Age Dig Site

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science has uncovered 546 Ice Age fossils and begins the third week of its largest‐ever fossil excavation. Additionally, local volunteers are getting ready to participate in the dig between June 6 and 24, and then share their once‐in‐a‐lifetime scientific experience with the community.

More than 546 bones have already been pulled from the ground this spring, and the highlights to‐date include:

  • 2 Mastodon skulls
  • 5 Mastodon pelvises (2 complete)
  • 4 Mastodon mandibles (jaws)
  • 7 Mastodon tusks
  • 1 Bison maxilla (upper jaw)
  • 1 Sloth mandible (jaw)

"This huge cache of bones is incredibly impressive," said Kirk Johnson, the leader of the Museum's excavation team and vice president of the Research and Collections Division.  "Each one is incredibly well-preserved and will help us better understand the Ice Age at this high elevation."

The Museum selected formal and informal educators from the Roaring Fork Valley to participate in a special excavation volunteer program, which allows individuals to work alongside Museum scientists at the site and share their experiences with the community. Volunteers will participate on the dig between June 6 and 24, after attending a mandatory training session in early June.

The volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in fossil excavation using shovels, pick axes, trowels, and brushes; screen sediments to look for bone fragments and other material; apply plaster "jackets" to fossils in the field; wash and catalog fossils; and provide assistance with transporting fossils into designated storage areas. Additionally, they will attend breakfast and dinner meetings with the rest of the excavation crew and scientists. 

The following individuals were selected for the excavation volunteer program:

  • Trent Bakich - Riverside Middle School
  • Andrea Brogan - U.S. Forest Service
  • Diana Buirgy - Coal Ridge High School
  • James Campbell - Colorado Mountain College
  • Ronald Carsten - Colorado Mountain College
  • Chris Faison - Aspen Community School
  • Sandra Jackson - Colorado Mountain College
  • Lisa Lawrence - Aspen Elementary
  • Georgina Levey - Aspen Middle School
  • Kristin Lidman - Aspen County Day School
  • Sarah Schmidt - Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
  • Greg Shaffran - Aspen Middle School
  • Alice Steindler - Rifle High School
  • Patrick Uphus - White River National Forest
  • Andre Wille - Aspen High School

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