The excavation that began five years ago at the Coyote Canyon dig site to unearth the Columbian Mammoth is about to give way to other important scientific discoveries. The excavation takes place south Kennewick and the experts have covered more than 11 feet of ground at the Horse Heaven Hills site.
Until now, more than 70 bones of the huge mammoth- which was probably 10 to 13 feet tall – have been taken out but the diggings came with other surprises for the researchers as well. Parts of various other animals – such as lizards, birds, snakes and what appears to be a camel have been extracted from the dirt.
A research associate in the paleontology division at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Bax Barton who is also the director of research at the Coyote Canyon dig site, explained the process that all these findings must undergo before it is established where the remnants come from. According to him, the pieces are first stored in buckets and are washed to remove any sediment and afterwards taken to their laboratories for analysis. It is then when they are able to tell what particular animal they are dealing with.
These findings are important because they lead to other discoveries. For example, they can make suppositions about the fact that 9000 years ago, the middle part of Columbia underwent a hot period of time. They were able to presume this because the only remains found from that particular age came from small animals, which probably had the strength to survive the heat, while larger ones would seek refuge in colder areas. The researchers’ aim is to collect as much as possible from that era’s environmental data because it might be very useful for determining certain evolutionary aspects.
However, the people attending the Dig It! event at Coyote Canyon on Saturday only seemed to be interested in the mammoth. 365 came to the event and some of them were given tours of the excavation site. They were given details related to the study that will be issued shortly, regarding the mammoth’s jaw. Its tooth revealed that it died when it was around 40 years old and its existence is recorded about 17.450 years ago. Researchers have mixed opinions when it comes to establishing the exact place the mammoth came from.
The excavators aim at extracting the remnants which are currently above the ground this year. This might turn into a disappointment for visitors, who might not be able to see any bones on their next year’s tour.
The research was initially scheduled to finish in seven years, but, due to the popularity of the site, experts said that they might be able to prolong the excavation process another 15 years.
Image Source: media.tri-cityherald