Thursday, October 3, 2019

Gotta Stop at the Mammoth Site!

"Let's stop and see the mammoths!" A few years ago, as we were driving through South Dakota on our way to a Colorado ski vacation with some friends, we heard this request from the back seat of our car. "We gotta stop at the Mammoth Site!" Kaleesha pleaded again. But the snow-covered mountains were calling our names, so Kaleesha didn't get her way ... that time ;-) Through the years, I have always wondered about the lure of The Mammoth Site, so when we found ourselves in Hot Springs, South Dakota last week, we decided that we ...

Gotta stop at the Mammoth Site!

The Mammoth Site and Museum is the world's largest mammoth research facility. Located in Hot Springs, South Dakota, it is a working paleontological excavation site in which the bones of 61 mammoths have been unearthed so far. The land on which the Mammoth Site is located is a prehistoric sink hole. Nearly complete skeletons of mammoths and other animals that became entrapped and perfectly preserved in the sink hole were discovered here starting in 1974.

For a $12 admission fee, we were lead on a guided tour through the enclosed excavation site where professionals, students, and volunteers work meticulously to unearth the fragile bones. The bones are carefully preserved and studied. Plastic models of the ancient bones are produced and pieced together in order to help us visualize the size of these giant creatures.

Diagrams on the walls helped us compare the size of these mammoths to their close modern relative, the elephant.

Remains of other animals including the extinct short-faced bears and American camel, as well as wolves, coyotes, and prairie dogs have also been found and studied. 

Digging up and studying fossils has never seemed really exciting to me, but visiting the Mammoth Site changed all that.

The museum and dig site provided a fascinating look into prehistoric life. How did the animals interact with each other? How were the animal bones used by humans to make houses and other necessary items? Our tour guide, as well as the videos and displays at The Mammoth Site enlightened us on what life was like during these ancient days.

I came to appreciate that this was not just a pile of bones ...

... but a complete skeleton of a mammoth providing a window into our past life here on earth. I can now appreciate Kaleesha's passion for this special place, and honestly join with her in saying ...

You gotta stop at the Mammoth Site!

Now that's a big femur!
Print this post

No comments:

Post a Comment