Waco Mammoth Site
Waco, Texas is known for quite a few things, some we're especially proud of, some we're not. High on the list of things Wacoans can be ultra proud of is the grand opening of the Waco Mammoth Site.
For what seems like forever, I've been anxiously awaiting it's opening. I was still in high school when the discovery was made. Over the years I've heard rumors of them opening it to the public. Over thirty years later, the wait is over.
The discovery I'm referring to was made in 1978 by Eddie Bufkin and Paul Barron. While searching for fossils and arrowheads near the Bosque River, they discovered a large bone and took it to Baylor University, home of the Strecker Museum, for analysis. It was just one of those finds where they just knew they had found something important.
For the next 19 years, excavation teams have painstakingly uncovered the fossil remains of twenty-two Columbian mammoths, the largest known herd of Columbian mammoths to die in a single event, a camel, and the tooth of youth saber-tooth cat. Based on the surroundings it appears that this nursery herd was trapped by a flood some 68,000 years ago, with the sabertooth tiger being about 15,000 years ago.
This certainly makes this an incredible discovery.
With the combined efforts of the City of Waco and Baylor University, they have successfully preserved and are just now finally able to allow visitors from around the world to view this incredible find. Between December 2009 and December 2011 over 48,000 people have visited this site.
Congressman Chet Edwards sponsored a bill to have the Mammouth site designated as part of the National Park and Monument system. That bill passed the House in December 2010, but died in the Senate. Please listen to his presentation below to understand the historical significance at a national and international level. US Rep Bill Flores gained House Committee approval for a revised bill, but it lacked funding.
There are plans to build a playground, a child-friendly interpretive center, trails leading down to the Bosque River where water taxis would take visitors to other attractions along the river.
The Waco Mammoth Site is located at 6220 Steiinbeck Road near the Bosque River north of Cameron Park in Waco, Texas. With adult admission at $7, seniors at $6 and children 4 and older at $5 this is a trip well worth making.
Columbian Mammoth Fast Facts
- The Columbian mammoth evolved from the Ancestral mammoth and colonised the New World about 1.5 million years ago.
- Measuring 13 feet tall and weighing up to 10 metric tons, the Columbian mammoth is one of the largest elephants
- Had spiralled tusks approximately 6-7 feet long, although a pair measuring 16 feet has been found
- It is a herbivore that is estimated to have consumed approximately 300-700 pounds of plant material daily
Scientists are not certain how much hair the Columbian mammoths had, but many believe they were less hairy than the woolly mammoth. They may have had longer hair on the top of the head, but that they were most likely more elephant-like with exposed gray naked skin.
Columbian mammoths ranged through the southern half of North America.
Their social behaviour revolved around the female herds. They remained in related groups of around 20 through their entire lives. They looked up to a dominant female matriarch surrounded by other adult females. Males left the herd around 12-15 years old.
Since the males live apart from the female herd, they only visit for breeding. Gestation lasted 22 months and they bear only one baby. The female would nurse it for 2-3 years.
Waco Mammoth Site Opens!
Chet Edwards on the Waco Mammoth Site
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