The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

June 17, 2014

Researchers return to mammoth site

OSKALOOSA — Scientists have returned to the mammoth dig site in rural Mahaska County Saturday to get it ready for another season of research.

The scientists got their hands dirty cleaning up mud and other debris that had accumulated in the pit during the winter months.

While sifting through the dirt, scientists found another mammoth bone.

Researcher Holmes Semken said the bone showed evidence of fractures.

“It’s either a leg or an arm,” he said.

The bone had two fractures — one occurred after the bone had been in the ground a while, but the other fracture appeared to have been caused at the time of death or soon after.

“There’s a lot of history,” Semkin said. “That’s very exciting.”

“The only other bone I’ve seen that has a spiral fracture was a long bone,” he added.

Dave Brenzel of the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids said the workers at the site Saturday was getting it ready for a visit from the Odyssey Group from the University of Kansas in July.

“They’ve only got 10 days. They are going to bring eight students,” Brenzel said. “If they find something, they’ll be back.”

Brenzel said the Odyssey Group is composed of scientists who do geoarchaeological research for evidence of early humans. The Mahaska County site has mammoths and possible evidence of early human inhabitants.

“They’re not interested in mammoths,” he added.

Brenzel said this past year researchers had found some large rocks in an area of the dig site where they should not be. So, that drew the interest of the Odyssey Group, he said.

Brenzel said that the dig schedule is being drafted and scientists should be back at the site every two weeks.

“We’re still open for volunteers,” Brenzel said. They can be individuals, business groups or school groups, he added.

“We’ve got the dates, we haven’t set the groups,” Brenzel said.

If you are interested in helping at the mammoth dig site, you can call Mahaska County Conservation Board Naturalist Laura DeCook at (641) 673-9327.

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