Explore a real dig site that has uncovered the remains of dozens of male mammoths
During our stopover in South Dakota we had had several people recommend that we visit the Mammoth Site Museum in Hot Springs, so that is where we headed.
Hot Springs itself is an interesting town, with small boutique shops and restaurants. The Museum is as a result of an accidental find during a housing construction project. What they found was an ancient sink-hole into which a large number of mammoths had fallen into to their deaths. Over the years sediment settled on to these poor creatures who were perfectly preserved. The dig site is uncommon as the mammoth bones that the excavation has exposed have been left in situ and can be view by visitors from raised walkways. It is a most unusual exhibit. The work is ongoing and you can still see the paleontologists and their worker elves working on uncovering more amazing discoveries. So far they have found the remains of 115 mammoths – these are the original bones as the sediment has preserved them in an unmineralised state. At the end of the tour we were allowed into the basement to the lab areas where you can see them working on the bones from the excavation. Via and intercom system you can talk to the people working in the clean room where they are preparing the samples.
We got talking to one man, who is a volunteer, working in the labs along with his wife. They had moved to a smaller house five years ago in the area so that they could be part of this project as volunteers. They were so dedicated that the work was helping them live with the knowledge that the gentleman had terminal cancer … their driving force had become uncovering an ancient life form! They were so gracious and brave!