Crews Pull More Than 100 Bones From Dig Site

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is now more than a week into its largest-ever fossil excavation and continues to find a treasure trove of Ice Age fossils, despite challenging spring weather conditions. Additionally, local students are getting the latest updates from the site via live broadcasts and two-way interaction with Museum scientists during today's school programs.


More than 100 bones have already been pulled from the ground this spring, and the highlights to-date include:

  • 2 Mastodon skulls
  • 2 Mastodon pelvises
  • 3 Mammoth tusks
  • Mastodon vertebrae, ribs, wrist and ankle bones, and large bones including humerus (upper arm) and ulna (forearm)
  • Sloth radius (forearm)
  • Bison metacarpal (wrist bone)
  • Deer pelvis

"This project is really ambitious and we have a great team at work," said Kirk Johnson, the leader of the Museum's excavation team and vice president of the Research and Collections Division.  "It's extremely rewarding work, thanks to these amazing finds so far.  With only 40 days to go we are shoveling like mad in a race against time and we continue to bump into bone after bone."  

The Museum crew is now working at full speed, with 43 people at the site each day. The crew is divided into five teams, each working on a specific location including the peat bison, the clay mammoth, and the Snowy site where the original mammoth was discovered.  The first few days were spent setting up the site, relocating and uncovering the finds from the fall, and digging drainage trenches to divert runoff as the snowmelt continues.


More than 460 local students are scheduled to experience Mammoth of a Find: Live Broadcast from the Dig Site today, May 24, at Roaring Fork High School. This 45-minute live broadcast connects Museum scientists from the Ice Age fossil dig site directly with students via satellite for a two‐way interactive experience. Students hear the latest about what is taking place at the site, and see amazing specimens recovered during the excavation including mammoth, mastodon, bison, and ground sloth fossils. Scientists share new discoveries, demonstrate field research techniques, and answer questions to give students a window into science careers. 

The Museum has offered Roaring Fork Valley students and educators several opportunities to learn more about the Ice Age fossil discoveries through programs that combine top‐notch professional science educators, specimens from the Museum collections, props and multimedia presentations to create a fun and educational experience. In 2011, more than 5,200 area students have participated in these programs, which are part of the community outreach planned for the Snowmastodon Project™.

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