Construction crews digging up a section of Oregon State’s Reser Stadium were stopped in their tracks when workers unearthed a pile of ancient woolly mammoth bones.
The mammoth bones, over 10,000 years old, were found as crews dug up the north end zone.
Immediately after the find, university archaeologists were called in to assess the first mammoth femur unearthed. As the investigation progressed a plethora of bones from several types of large mammals were discovered buried there.
“There are quite a few bones, and dozens of pieces,” said Loren Davis, an associate professor of anthropology at OSU. “Some of the bones are not in very good shape, but some are actually quite well preserved.”
The professor reported that the bones discovered included mammoth, bison, and some kind of camel or horse. He added that the area being dug would likely have been a bog or marsh ten thousand years ago.
“Animals who were sick would often go to a body of water and die there, so it’s not unusual to find a group of bones like this,” Davis added. “We had all of these types of animals in the Willamette Valley back then.”
Davis said no ancient human remains have yet been found nor was any prehistoric human impact evident among the remains. Davis also said more tests would be needed to determine precisely what animals the bones came from and how old they are.
The discovery of the bones forced construction crews to start work on other parts of the renovation while the bones were investigated. But since no human impact has been seen the site is not being classified by the state as an official archaeological site.
Professor Davis also noted that the find is an opportunity for students.
“It’ll be a great learning experience for them, to learn how to identify extinct animal bones,” Davis concluded. “It’s really an amazing find.”
Work on the renovations is still expected to be finished in time for the Beavers’ 2016 season to begin.
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