Waco Mammoth Site by
Nearing National Monument Status
have always taken second place to the dinosaurs in museums and in children’s coloring
books and text books. Fossils and a few teeth are about all we have of the huge
mammoths that came our way from Eurasia about two million years ago. (Or far older
than the crazy uncle in your attic.)|
A note from Congressman Chet Edwards
(D-Waco) says that soon Texas holiday-makers can visit a national monument for
mammoths. Last month the U.S. Congressional committee approved the Waco Mammoth
Site to become a national monument.
Mr. Edwards said the Establishment
Act of 2009 was passed with little to no resistance. This was the biggest hurdle
so far in the ten-year struggle to protect the site of a mammoth herd's death
just north of Waco.
This is the world's largest known concentration of prehistoric mammoths perishing
in the same event.
Mastodon in Red River Museum. TE photo
we know there were three species of mammoths that lived in our country at the
end of the last Ice Age. (That was a while before our land became the United States.)
These were the Columbian mammoth, Jefferson's mammoth, and the Woolly mammoth.|
Mammoths are in same family with elephants and mastodons (mastodons differ from
elephants and mammoths in their teeth structure). Mammoths are closely related
to our elephants, especially Indian or Asiatic elephants. The mommoths stood 10
to 12 feet and weighed around six to eight tons.
Those in the know tell
us that approximately 11,000 years ago all species of mammoths became extinct.
They passed from the earthly scene about the same time (given a 100,000 years
or so) as the well-known saber-tooth cats and mastodons. The horse also became
extinct in North America but survived in other places.
The question is
why did they become extinct? To be honest no one knows how or why they disappeared.
Research has developed several ideas as to what happened to these huge beasts.
The mammoths were here long before the Clovis people (thought to be the first
people to cross from Asia to the North American continent, some 14,000 years
ago). As hunters the Clovis people no doubt contributed to the extinction. This
also led to an environmental collapse.
Back in 1978, Paul Barron and Eddie
Bufkin discovered a bone protruding on a creek bank outside of Waco.
By 1990, fifteen mammoths had been identified. More scratching around identified
more mammoths, a camel, and a young saber-tooth cat's tooth.
I am not
a student of such things; but I found it interesting and thought that other Texans
might also. This news of a central Texas location to see the fossils and learn
more about them caught my eye.
The U.S. House and Senate still have to
vote final approval of the Waco mammoth site, but were impressed that $3.5 million
had already been raised locally. Both the City of Waco and Baylor University are
partners in the effort.
The Waco Mammoth Site, if it becomes a national
monument, puts it in the same category as the Statue of Liberty and General George
Copyright Britt Towery
the Way with Britt,
August 24, 2009 Column
(For history, photos and
partners of the endeavor see: www.wacomammoth.org/)
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