Imagine the surprise of a construction crew that uncovered a mastodon tooth at a reservoir just outside of Snowmass, Colorado. Not exactly cowboys and Indians revealed by turquoise trinkets and bullets, more like mammoths and mastodons revealed in tusks, femurs, sockets, teeth, and other bone shards. This is a huge deal here in the Roaring Fork Valley which includes the towns of Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs. Locals are excited and curious about the find.

I am one of those locals, and gladly took the advantage of viewing the moist, not fossilized bones before the Denver Museum of Nature and Science curatorial staff took over. The bones were housed at the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District office. There really is nothing like seeing history, prehistoric matter dug up. At the very least, it proves that there were some rather large critters cruising the terrain a very long time ago (10,000 years plus). None the less, I waited in line with many other locals to walk through, view, learn more about the Ziegler Reservoir, and take photos.


mammoth bonestusk

socketmammoth femur n sockettooth (32108)

It was a big mammoth weighing up to 10 tons and standing 13 feet tall. It's skeleton was found and later a mastodon tooth was found. As of Monday, November 8th, 2010, "Dig crews from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science discovered a second Columbian Mammoth at the Ziegler Reservoir Ice Age fossil dig site today." That is the quote from the ongoing reports on the Denver Museum of Nature and Science site. More tusks were also found that may be confirmed to belong to a 3rd mammoth.

Mammoths and mastodons differ mainly in size and teeth. Mammoths were larger than mastodons and they both had the same amount of teeth in their respective mouths. However, mastodons had more teeth in their jaw. Both had teeth for herbivores, yet mastodons teeth were more suited to twigs, branches, roots and leaves, rather than grass. Also, the mammoths survived longer. Both are considered prehistoric elephants hunted to extinction by humans. Yikes, it would be quite a hunt to kill and eat one of those giants.

The archaeological crew has to put up with lots of mud at the site. That's not all, as we have a winter snowstorm warning in the valley. The curator overseeing the dig, Dr. Ian Miller, told the Aspen Daily News that 6 inches of snow was okay, and possibly up to 12. It will definitely be a dramatic undertaking in the mountains. Evidently the Snowmass mammoths find is at the highest elevation found so far in the United States. A true Rocky Mountain high!

I'm awaiting a film to be developed with hot celebs playing various characters, and a twist of fate to make the story even more sensational. Perhaps an evil critter from the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District pond could come crawling out from under the murky waters and attack the scientists at the dig. The only way to save the residents is to clone the mammoth remains and create a herd of them to kill the critter from the pond.

I digress. It must be the altitude and weather change. The dig is real, and ongoing, as are my photos!