This Sunday, October 13, is National Fossil Day. Although Wisconsin is not known for its dinosaurs, it is home to several very important fossils including two mammoth skeletons. These skeletons provide a look at Wisconsin’s past, both when the glaciers melted into Lake Michigan and when the first humans began living in the area.
The Hebior Mammoth
This mammoth was found on a small farm in Kenosha. It was discovered by a farmer in 1979, and excavated by a team from Marquette University in the 1990s. The skeleton is remarkable in that it was found 85 percent intact and is the largest mammoth ever unearthed. It is also fascinating because there are visible butchering marks on the bones, proving that humans were in Wisconsin 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. It also places the Hebior Mammoth site as among the oldest evidence of human habitation in North America. The mammoth can be seen currently at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
The Schaefer Mammoth was first discovered by Frank Schaefer in 1964. A local amateur archeologist sketched the scene. This sketch was used in the 1990s to rediscover the site. It took researchers 18 months, but what they found was an 80 percent intact skeleton. It had been killed thousands of years before bows and arrows, so archeologists believe that it was killed by Paleo-Indians with spears. This fossil can be seen at the Kenosha Public Museum.
This National Fossil Day, visit a museum in your area and see how fossils explain the world’s past. Learn about woolly mammoths and why we still can’t clone them. Fossils are the past, but they are also will be our future.
Sources: https://museums.kenosha.org/public/exhibits-2/mammoths-kenosha-public-museum/ (Kenosha Public Museum)
https://www.mpm.edu/exhibitions/permanent-exhibits/ground-floor-exhibits/hebior-mammoth (Milwaukee Public Museum)
Photo Credit: Mauricio Antón