PALEONTOLOGISTS WORK TO “JACKET” MAMMOTH SKELETON FOUND IN ELLIS COUNTY FOR ITS FINAL JOURNEY TO THE PEROT MUSEUM
Perot Museum or bust! This Wednesday (Sept. 17) come watch paleontologists and volunteers in action as they flip over and “jacket” the last and largest section of an incredibly pristine and nearly complete mammoth skeleton for its final journey to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The mammoth, which was uncovered in an Ellis County sand and gravel pit where it has lain for thousands of years, was donated to the Museum by the Wayne McEwen family. Once catalogued into the Museum’s collections, the remarkable fossil will be preserved for scientific research and study for years to come.
Perot Museum paleontologist and fossil preparator Dr. Ron Tykoski has been working at the site for weeks using toilet paper, plaster, burlap and two-by-fours to create the protective field jackets that will insure the bones arrive intact at the Museum. The tusks, skull, pelvis area and legs have already been jacketed, and the arm and leg bones transported to a Museum collections facility. On Wednesday, Dr. Tykoski and his team will flip over the final huge block from the excavation, a multi-hundred pound block containing the rib, spine, and shoulder blades of the animal. The team will then cover the newly exposed side with a layer of plaster and burlap to protect the delicate bones, which is the last step in the excavation process before carefully loading up and removing the fossils from the site.
This specimen of Mammuthus columbi (mam-MOOTH-us ka-LUM-bee), or Columbian mammoth, is estimated to be anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 – maybe even 60,000 – years old. Navarro College biology professor and paleontologist Tom Vance, the project director for the specimen and an expert in the study of Texas mammoths, speculates it might be a female due to its diminutive size, the length of the tusks and the shape of the pelvic bones. Vance, who led the early excavation efforts, believes the animal to have been approximately 8-9 feet tall at the shoulder, or similar in size to a modern-day female Asian elephant. He notes that it is small compared to male mammoths from the Pleistocene Epoch, a time interval that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until only about 10,000 years ago.
Dr. Ron Tykoski, paleontologist and fossil Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and Wayne McEwen, owner of the sand and gravel pit and donor of the mammoth skeleton
The final stages of the excavation process coincide with the North Texas Giving Day, which takes place Thursday (Sept. 18). The money raised for the Perot Museum this year will be designated to help “bring the mammoth home.” To donate, go to northtexasgivingday.org.
Wednesday (Sept. 17) from 9 – 10 a.m.
Please let us know if you plan to attend, and we will provide directions to the sand and gravel pit, which is located near Italy. Travel time is approximately 1 – 1-1/2 hours from downtown Dallas, pending traffic.