A family in Iowa discovered a massive mammoth bone in their back yard, hoping to recover the rest with the help of archaeologists.
“I got down on my hands and knees on the bank and I could see a marrow line around the edge of this and I said boys, that’s a bone, that’s a really big bone,” said John, the patriarch of the Iowa family.
The family first stumbled across the object over two years ago when they were digging around in the dirt. While they initially believes it to be a bowling ball, further unearthing revealed it to be a mammoth bone. The family’s Oskaloosa home was once quiet an idyllic, but has now become busy excavation site with the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History overseeing the dig.
The family kept the discovery to themselves for nearly two years, keeping the mammoth bone in their living room, before finally deciding to contact experts to help them finish the excavation.
“The size of this discovery is quite uncommon,” said Sarah Horgen, the museum’s education coordinator, “It’s pretty exciting-–partially because the mammoth is being discovered where it died. And we know that because we’re finding very large bones right alongside very small bones.”
The bones, found about 10 feet below ground, are said to be at least 12,000 years old. The experts on the dig are excited about the discovery, because it is actually quite uncommon to find so many bones from one mammoth in the same place. “The conditions of the bones were ideal,” archaeologist Marlin Ingalls of the Iowa State Archeologist’s office told HuffPo.
University of Iowa researchers identified the original discovery as a mammoth femur. They have since uncovered the mammoth’s vertebrae and ribs, reports Discovery.
“Finding the small bones is a very significant attribute in terms of the possibility of finding a nearly complete skeleton,” continued Ingalls. “There will be additional excavations out there in about two weeks in the hope that we can enlarge the excavation and recover as many of those as possible.”
John and other volunteers are hoping to unearth the mammoth’s head next. What is he going to do with the skeleton? “Build another room off the side of the home and put it together? I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet,” he said.
Here’s a video of the excavation: