Earlier this week, a Michigan man stumbled upon a prehistoric prize—the skeleton of a woolly mammoth.
Farmer James Bristle and a friend were digging in a soybean farm in Washtenaw County in preparation for a new gas line when the two unearthed a mud-covered bone they initially thought was an old, bent fence post. But the men quickly realized their discovery wasn’t any ordinary farm find, and recruited an expert from the University of Michigan to give it a look.
Paleontologist Dan Fisher, who studies the extinction of mastodons and mammoths, examined the skeleton’s teeth and confirmed that they belonged to a 40-year-old woolly mammoth that died between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago. Hunters most likely killed the animal, stripped it of its meat, and stored the food in a nearby pond for safekeeping, Fisher told Michigan Live.
The skeleton was remarkably intact, and contained a skull, tusks, ribs, vertebrae, and other bones. Over the years, only about 30 mammoths have been found in Michigan—and only five or so have been this complete, Fisher told the Detroit Free Press.
Volunteers are still digging up the skeleton, which will be cleaned, dried, and re-examined by scientists. Check out a video of the excavation process above.
[h/t Michigan Live]