Scientists Will Recover Bones and Study Other Evidence of
Ancient Ecosystem at the Site
Denver Museum of Nature & Science Field Report from
Snowmass: Tuesday, November 2, 2010
View photos from the excavation site on
Note to Reporters and Editors: Every afternoon,
the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will issue an update
about the fossil excavation taking place at Ziegler Reservoir near
Snowmass Village. In addition to this e-mail, watch for another
e-mail with links to the still images shot today, and a third
e-mail that will allow you to download video from the dig site.
The e-mail about the video may come late in the day.
Thank you for your patience as we work to perfect our
distribution system over the next couple days.
Today: After a briefing this morning from Dr.
Steve Holen, curator of archaeology, Denver Museum of Nature &
Science field crews began excavating at Ziegler Reservoir. Using
hand tools and archaeological techniques supplemented by a small
backhoe, they opened up four of the sites that have produced fossil
bone over the last week.
The first site is the juvenile Columbian mammoth discovered on
October 14. This dig area is covered by a tent. Scientists staked
out a grid above the bones to guide them in their excavation. The
second site was where a large mastodon was discovered on October
27. The third site is located where a pair of tusks was found near
the margin of the reservoir, and the fourth site is a newly
discovered occurrence of bone.
Over the course of this first full day of excavation, Dr. Holen
and Dr. Ian Miller, curator of paleontology and chair of the Earth
Science Department, determined the order of sites to be excavated
and will deploy teams to those sites in the coming days. The field
effort will focus not only on recovering the mammoth and mastodon
bones, but also on recovering a full assessment of the paleoecology
of the site where the animals lived and died. This will involve
sampling the sediment, as well as fossils of plants, invertebrates
such as insects and clams, and a variety of microscopic fossils.
The team will also use the excavation to better understand the
geology of the site and how the sediments were deposited.
Also today, Museum president and CEO George Sparks and conservator
Jude Southward returned to Denver with five tusks and the lower jaw
of the juvenile mammoth to begin the delicate process of preserving
the bones. More members of the museum team will be arriving in
Snowmass tomorrow as the race against winter continues.
Media Availability: Dr. Steve Holen and Dr. Ian
Miller will be available for phone interviews late today by
For additional information about the excavation, interview clips,
video clips and still images from the site, please check the Denver
Museum of Nature & Science's home page and press
About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science The Denver
Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region's
leading resource for informal science education. A variety of
engaging exhibits, discussions and activities help Museum visitors
celebrate and understand the natural wonders of Colorado, Earth and
the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver,
CO, 80205. To learn more about the Museum, check
www.dmns.org, or call 303-370-6000.
Many of the Museum's educational programs and exhibits are
made possible in part by generous funding from the citizens of
the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural