Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mammoth Site of Hot Springs

Friday, August 26th - - Continuing south from Wind Cave National Park, I stopped in Hot Springs, South Dakota to take a look at the Mammoth Site located there.

Some 26,000 years ago a sink hole developed trapping unsuspecting Columbian and Wooly Mammoths as well as other animals. Once in the sink hole, the animals could not escape and their remains are slowly being uncovered, a fraction of an inch at a time, by archeologists. A building was constructed over the area of the sink hole to provide a good working space as well as a means of protecting the fragile bones.

Looking down into the pit you can see numerous tusks and other bones of the Mammoths. Several almost complete skeletons were found but mostly the various bones are scattered here and there throughout the site.

Here you can see the rear legs and the rib cage of a Columbian Mammoth that was desperately trying to escape from the sink hole. Alongside him (or her) are the tusks of another trapped Mammoth.

I forget how far down they have excavated, perhaps a hundred feet or so, and they have uncovered the partial remains of 58 Mammoths. The sink hole is several hundred feet deep and they expect to find many more animals that were trapped.

After touring the main excavation site there is an impressive display in the exhibit hall. Prior to the tour, a video is shown that explains how the sink hole developed and how the animals were trapped within. It was well worth the slight detour south to visit the site.

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