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Woolly Mammoth Bones Uncovered In Michigan

Oct 05, 2015 12:02 PM EDT
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Strange 160-million-year-old fossils reveal that the earliest mammals could glide

A new set of woolly mammoth bones have been excavated from Lima Township, Michigan. In total, paleontologists from the University of Michigan (UM) recovered about 20 percent of a full woolly mammoth's skeleton, including a skull, tusks, some vertebrae, ribs, the pelvis and shoulder blades. These findings represent some of the most complete remains ever uncovered. 

The bones belonged to an adult male that was about 40 years old at the time of its death, according to University of Michigan news. While the remains have yet to be dated, the researchers estimated that the woolly mammoth lived 11,700 to 15,000 years ago and was originally buried by early humans.

"We think that humans were here and may have butchered and stashed the meat so that they could come back later for it," Daniel Fisher, UM professor and director of the UM Museum of Paleontology, told Michigan News.  

Mammoths and mastodons are elephant-like prehistoric animals that roamed North America 11,700 years ago. Fisher added that about 300 mastodons and 30 mammoths have been excavated from locations in Michigan over the past several years. 

The discovery of these new remains were originally made by farmer and landowner James Bristle when he and a friend were digging in one of his wheat fields to install a drainage pipe. 

"We're so thankful to the landowner for allowing us to come, and we'd love to be able to do even more research," Fisher told ABC News. "These rare findings are important in enhancing our knowledge of the history and biology of these animals and lifestyle and habits of early humans. Studying this mammoth could also potentially tell us more about the climate system, how it works and what kinds of changes happen over time, which is something very relevant to us right now."

A video of the findings can be found online, courtesy of YouTube. 

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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