Scientists Add Camel to List of Ice Age Animals

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science has launched its largest ever fossil excavation project -- involving 36 scientific experts, 107 trained volunteers, 35 staff members, and nine interns.  The Museum crew will spend seven weeks continuing the excavation of an exceptionally preserved series of Ice Age fossil ecosystems that were first discovered in October 2010 by a bulldozer driver working on the expansion of the Ziegler Reservoir.

After the dig concluded for the season last fall, a staff member from Gould Construction was sifting through sediment that had been removed from the dig site and made an important find. One small clue -- the two-inch lower molar of a Camelops -- was discovered.

Teeth are among the most recognizable features of fossil mammal species, so paleontologists linked this individual tooth to an Ice Age camel.

Camelops is an extinct genus of camels that once roamed western North America and disappeared along with mastodons at the end of the Pleistocene about 10,000 years ago. Camelops were slightly taller than modern camels and scientists are not certain if this species possessed a hump, like modern camels, or lacked one, like its modern llama relatives.


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