Chelsea’s Mammoth Skeleton May Be A Hybrid Wooly Mammoth Species [Video]

Chelsea's Mammoth Skeleton May Be A Hybrid Wooly Mammoth Species [Video]

The discovery of Chelsea’s mammoth skeleton has everyone excited because the find was so unexpected. In addition, the wooly mammoth may not be a wooly mammoth at all, and instead a hybrid species.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, the find was made by farmer James Bristle and his friend, who were working in a soy field. Dan Fisher, a professor at the University of Michigan who helped excavate Chelsea’s mammoth, said that there had only been 10 similar finds in Michigan, although around 300 woolly mammoths have been found worldwide.

Henry Wright, professor and curator of a U-M archeology museum, said the flint cutting tools indicate that humans felled the large beast. They were the precursors to the modern Native Americans, and their DNA ancestry can be traced back to people who came from Siberia.

Wright says the Chelsea, Michigan of many years ago would have been perfect for a mammoth to live.

“Imagine what this place was like 13,000 years ago,” he said, according to MLive. “It would be a part tundra area. Down in these low spots there’d be little groves of willow, and dwarf spruce and even some dwarf oak in the protected areas. It would be a fabulous place. It would be a paradise for these giant herbivores.”

The discovery of Chelsea’s mammoth was quite by accident. The farm field had recently been acquired by Bristle and he and a friend named Trent Satterthwaite were digging on the property in preparation for a natural gas line being installed. That is when they found the first mammoth bones.

“It was probably a rib bone that came up,” Bristle explained. “We thought it was a bent fence post. It was covered in mud.”

“I think we just found a dinosaur or something,” Satterthwaite recalled joking with Bristle.

The excavation of Chelsea’s mammoth probably makes for a record somewhere. Due to the installation of the gas pipeline, and a farming schedule tied to the harvest, Bristle could only give Fisher and his team of U-M graduate and undergraduate students a single day to bring up the mammoth skeleton. Regardless of the short amount of time available, the team managed to pull up about 20 percent of the mammoth’s skeleton.

“We didn’t stop to eat or drink,” Fisher said. “It was a hard, hard day of work, but every bit worth it.”

Fisher believes it is possible that the hunters purposefully put the leftovers of the kill in a pond in order to preserve what had not been eaten yet. They found the head and tusks, several ribs, a set of vertebrae, and several other pieces, but it is possible that the ancient hunters ate anything else that is missing from the mammoth skeleton.

At this point, Chelsea’s mammoth bones will be cleaned and examined by university researchers. According to the Detroit Free Press, the current working theory is that this particular mammoth was killed between 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, and that its age was between 40- and 50-years-old. Fisher also believes this mammoth is technically a Jeffersonian mammoth, which is a hybrid between a wooly mammoth and a Columbian mammoth.

According to BBC, the Columbian mammoth lived in the southern parts of north America and also Mexico. The wooly mammoth lived closer to Canada, although it is believed that the two species overlapped. There is some debate over whether a Columbian mammoth was as hairy as a full wooly mammoth, but the prevailing opinion is that they were elephant-like in their appearance except for some hairy sections.

In any case, Chelsea’s mammoth skeleton is temporarily being stored near the field. Technically, the mammoth bones belong to farmer Bristle. Fisher hopes the farmer chooses to donate them for research, since the bones could provide further insight into mammoth biology.

[Image via SBNation]