Mammoth Site Paleontology
Paleontology is the study of pre-existing life based on fossils. A fossil could be an actual portion of the animal, such as bones, teeth, or shells, or maybe replaced by minerals such as silica, iron and manganese as in petrified wood. A fossil may also be a track or a trail, an imprint or a cast, anything that indicates preexisting life forms. Through paleontology scientists hope to create a more complete understanding of how life has changed since it first appeared in the geologic record of time.
The Mammoth Site & Its Fossils
The majority of fossils found at the Mammoth Site are from the North American Columbian mammoth. Evidence of three woolly mammoths have also been discovered here, making this "east meets west mammoth gathering" the first time both species have been found together. Fossils of other Ice Age animals have also been discovered: camel, llama, giant short-faced bear, wolf, coyote and prairie dog to name a few. Imprint fossils of bird feathers, complete fish skeletons, and thousands of mollusk shells have also been recovered from this now-dry 26,000 year old sinkhole.
Not petrified, these fossils are dry and fragile. The bones, scat and shells are identified, numbered cataloged and preserved, with almost all the mammoth remains displayed in-situ (as they were found in the sinkhole).