Woolly Mammoth Remains Found in Michigan

Article by Rebecca Oldham. Media by Andrea Martin.

Imagine when you were a little kid and you used to play in the sandbox. You would hide things and then dig them up later, or perhaps you’d find your dog’s bone hidden in the sand. Now imagine doing some form of work on your parent’s property where you have to dig several inches into the ground. What would you find?  Most likely just dirt, mud, maybe some rocks, but relatively nothing else.  But what if you found a really old fossil? Well, this is exactly what happened in Lima Township, Michigan in the past month.

The fossil was found in Jim Bristle’s soybean field after he and some friends decided to start digging in the field. They came across what they thought was a large fence post stuck deep in the mud. This so-called “fence post” was the partial piece of a pelvic bone belonging to a fully-grown woolly mammoth.

Image from History.com
Image from History.com

Photos of the mammoth’s large skeleton were released on Oct. 1 to the public. According to U.S. News, scientists and excavators from the University of Michigan have taken over the project of unearthing the ancient creature. Last week they uncovered around 20 percent of the mammoth. Other than the partial pelvic bone, Fox News reported they also uncovered a skull, two tusks, several vertebrae, ribs and also partials of both shoulder blades. Fox News also quoted Daniel Fisher, one of the lead excavators at the site, who stated, “Remains of about 300 mastodons and 30 mammoths have been discovered in Michigan, although most of the mammoth finds aren’t as complete as the one in Bristle’s field.”

Image from History.com James Bristle, left, and Daniel Fisher, director of U-M Museum of Paleontology
Image from History.com
James Bristle left, and Daniel Fisher, director of U-M Museum of Paleontology

The mammoth would have lived around 15,000 years ago according to Fisher. Along with the mammoth, they found three very large boulders, which has led Fisher and other experts to believe the mammoth was butchered and brought to this area, which probably once held a pond. What was left of the mammoth was placed into the pond to keep the butchered meat from potential scavengers. The pond was also perhaps used as a means to keep the meat fresh and the three large boulders were used as an anchor.

According to U.S. News, “More than 200 people have stopped at Jim Bristle’s farm in Washtenaw County, west of Ann Arbor, since Friday. They’ve been driving into Chelsea, the closest town, and asking for directions.” Bristle is very excited to see many people have taken an interest in the discovery. Bristle will be donating the mammoth’s remains to the University of Michigan to be studied and tested. It is amazing to know such amazing creatures lived so long ago and now, with the findings of new fossils, we are able to study them and learn so much more about these amazing creatures.


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