GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A selection of bones belonging to a juvenile mastodon that roamed the Michigan forests 13,000 years ago is now on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, after workers unearthed it. by chance last year.

Excited museum officials displayed some of the remains of the long-extinct pachyderm on Thursday, though much of the skeleton is still going through the drying process.

Mastodons may look similar to woolly mammoths, but they were shorter and stockier (imagine a mix between a woolly mammoth and a modern elephant) and their tusks were shorter and less curved.

Michigan’s skeleton was discovered by Kent County workers digging a drainage ditch about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. The museum’s executive director, Dale Robertson, called the discovery “astonishing.”

“It’s probably an understatement,” he said during a news conference Thursday before officials toured the new exhibit.

It’s not unusual to find mastodon bones, especially in the Midwest. But what’s special about this discovery is that up to 80% of the mastodon’s bones are intact, “which is really impressive,” said Cory Redman, the museum’s scientific curator.

“Anything over 20 gets you really excited, so 75 to 80% is absolutely fantastic,” Redman said.

Unfortunately, no tusks were found and only a partial skull, shown under glass near a large photo of the excavation site. The skeleton was discovered last August on private property belonging to the Clapp family, who decided to donate it to the museum.

A selection of the bones, now known as the “Clapp Family Behemoth,” will go on public display as part of the museum’s “Ice Age: Michigan’s Frozen Secrets” exhibit, which opens Saturday. The exhibit also features a variety of creatures from the Pleistocene Period. The museum has acquired 63 new fossils and casts, allowing visitors to touch real fossilized bones and teeth.

But the Clapp family behemoth is the star of the show.

The young man was between the ages of 10 and 20 when he died, Redman said, radiocarbon dating to about 13,210 years ago.

“What makes this specimen unique and so exciting is that it is a juvenile. It is a young animal. Usually when you find them, they are adults. And also, the degree of integrity,” Redman said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *