CHELSEA (WWJ/AP) – University of Michigan paleontologists have discovered 40 additional mammoth bones during a second excavation at a southeast Michigan farm.
According to a news release, the second excavation at the site, south of Chelsea and west of Ann Arbor, was an effort to confirm the age of the bones found in 2015. They belong to a woolly-Columbian mammoth hybrid.
The university says a preliminary analysis indicates the bones are more than 15,000 years old.
Paleontologists spent one day excavating the site in 2015 after farmer Jim Bristle discovered the bones. The first dig uncovered 55 to 60 mostly intact mammoth bones, which accounts for between 30 to 40 percent of the animal.
Extinct for a minimum of 10,000 years, the woolly mammoth lived during the Pleistocene epoch, and was one of the last in a line of mammoth species. Boasting enormous tusks and looking a bit like a furry version of the modern-day elephant, the woolly mammoth co-existed alongside people for a time, scientists say.
U-M Paleontologist Daniel Fisher, who led both of the digs, said evidence from the Chelsea finds point to human processing of the mammoth carcass for food.
“This return to the Bristle site was absolutely a success. We got the kind of information that we need to do the science right, and we were also able to recover an impressive amount of additional material from this animal,” he said. “So I’m confident that as a result of this second excavation, we’ll have more insight into what happened here.”
Researchers have determined that the mammoth was likely a 45-year-old male.
A U-M news video of the skull and two attached tusks being hoisted from the muddy excavation pit with a backhoe on Oct. 1, 2015, has been viewed more than 875,000 times on YouTube.
Learn more about the dig at this link.
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