Posts Tagged ‘South Dakota museums’

Come journey with me through South Dakota for awhile as I relive my explorations of the state during the fall of 2008.

Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota, where research of these Ice Age animals is an ongoing activity attracting paleontologists from all over the world. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world.” — Thomas Huxley

Travels With Maggie

 Around 26,000 years ago a limestone cavern collapsed in what is now Hot Springs, South Dakota. The resulting sink hole filled with spring water and trapped over 50 Columbian mammoths and at least three wooly mammoths that couldn’t climb back up the steep banks of the pond. You can see the bony remains at the Mammoth Site.

Boneyard overview -- Photo by Pat Bean

Research and excavation work of these fossils, which were not discovered until 1974, continues today inside a permanent museum. A multi-level walkway encircling the still-partially buried bones makes viewing an easy task for visitors like me. And signs and a tour guide made the experience educational as well. .

My guide noted that all of the bones belonged to male mammoths, and mostly younger specimens. She speculated that they were probably young ones off on their own for the first time and didn’t understand the danger. It reminded me of the drowning deaths I covered yearly as a newspaper reporter. Almost everyone was a young male and an expert swimmer who had over-estimated his strength.

I found the correlation between then and now, and animal and human gender traits enlightening.

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