The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

February 25, 2014

Ottumwa native gives update on mammoth excavation


From just poking around in the area where he found the femur, the farmer was able to uncover many more bones of all different sizes, Horgen said, which was a good sign because that told the experts the site hadn’t been disturbed.

The team performed soil coring and site mapping around the site to see what was under the surface of the ground in early 2012, then in June 2012 the actual excavation started.

Thanks to a backhoe provided by Titan Machinery and enough volunteers that they eventually had to make a waiting list, the excavations started and provided results almost right away. Soon the team had uncovered most of one leg, a shoulder blade and several other bones.

After just a month of investigating the site, the team was able to find another shoulder blade, but it was determined to be from a separate mammoth. Then, they found a skeleton in August 2012 with a tooth still imbedded in the jaw, a mostly in-tact tusk in September 2012 and a second tusk in November 2012. Now, it is believed that the site has remains from at least four different mammoths, Horgen said.

The excavation team will be heading back to the site this year with possibly a different area to look in. During her presentation, Horgen outlined a piece of the site where they believe more bones could be, and this year’s focus will be a little more on that area. Once we are able to get out of the current ice age, the team will be heading back out to try and uncover more mammoth remains.

As for the bones that have already been taken from the site, Horgen said they belong to the farmer who owns the land. As of right now she said the farmer is hoping to keep the bones in Mahaska County, and there will be an announcement before the next excavation starts about where they will be taken.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh

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