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70,000-Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton Discovered In Idaho

Mammoth Skeleton

<![CDATA[Parts of a Columbian mammoth's skull and tusk have been discovered by volunteers on the banks of a reservoir in South Eastern Idaho. Palaeontologists believe there is a lot more of the skeleton still buried underground. Mary Thompson, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, said they might even find the entire mammoth. She went on to say that finding such a thing would be an incredibly unique discovery. Each year when water levels decrease in the American Falls Reservoir in Idaho, teams of volunteers and palaeontologists along with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation comb the beaches exploring for fossils. Occasionally sabre-toothed cats, giant ground sloths, bison latifrons, camels and other extinct Ice Age beasts can be found poking out of the newly eroded reservoir banks. Evidence suggests that the mammoth lived between 70,000 and 120,000 years ago in a savannah-like region, inhabited by big predators and plant-eaters. There is enough evidence to suggest that the mammoth was around 16 years old at the time of its death. Thompson said that there were still teeth in place in the mammoth's mouth, which could teach the palaeontologists an awful lot. In early October one of the volunteers working for the Bureau of Reclamation stumbled upon the skeleton by the American Falls Reservoir. Shortly afterwards it was partly excavated by the students and instructors of Idaho State University. Thompson said that her crew was mostly students, and what they had unearthed couldn't be taught about in the lab or classroom. Unfortunately the palaeontologists had to abandon their excavation of the skeleton because of the reservoir's rising water level. They plan to resume their excavation work in the summer of 2015, when the water levels drop again. Thompson said that this would give her team enough time to prepare themselves to extract a complete mammoth, if necessary. She added that a substantial amount of funds would be required to achieve this. Thompson mentioned that this is not the first time such fossils have been uncovered at the site. Over the years, remains of different extinct species have been found, including giant sloths, short-nosed bears and sabre-toothed cats. She summarised the importance of the site by saying that researchers from all over the world came to study fossils at American Falls. ]]>

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