A family farm in Texas has yielded an unusual archaeological find--an almost intact mammoth skeleton dated to between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.
Discovered in southern Ellis County, the mammoth was buried in a gravel pit on the 138-acre farm, the Dallas Morning News reported. While mammoths have been found in the area before, this specimen is rare for being nearly complete.
"Usually the bones are scattered and you get the remains of maybe 30 or 40 percent of the animal. But anyone can look at this and know it's a mammoth. It looks exactly like what it is," said Tom Vance, the Navarro College professor who led the excavation, as quoted by the Morning News.
Farm owner Wayne McEwen, whose son and grandson were taking road bedding material from the gravel pit in May when the fossil was found by an excavator, has donated the mammoth specimen to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
The female Columbian mammoth specimen found in Ellis County was around 8 or 9 feet tall at the shoulder. In comparison with woolly mammoths, Columbian mammoths were a bit larger in size and had less hair.
Perot Museum officials were alerted to the find in July and sent a representative to examine the specimen. A collective of volunteers comprising students, staff and amateur paleontologists have been carefully digging up the bones, becoming more and more excited by the find.
"We'd find one bone and there would be another one next to it and another and another, and we realized they weren't just scattered," said Vance, as quoted by the Morning News.
The bones, which may or may not be publicly displayed one day, will next go to a museum warehouse, where Perot Museum staff paleontologist Ron Tykoski will examine them for indications of cause of death, diet, age and other information.