Friday, October 5, 2012

Mastodon hot, mammoth cold

1st image, An engraving of a mammoth or mastodon on fossilized bone found on a Florida beach about 5 years ago by amateur collector James Kennedy, which has since been authenticated as one of the oldest pieces of prehistoric art in the Western Hemisphere; 2nd image, The jawbone of a mastodon found in 2011 with other bones of the 4- to 5-ton prehistoric beast by workers digging a retention pond in Florida; 3rd image, Well-preserved remains of a woolly mammoth found in the permafrost of a polar ice station in Russia in 2012.

A mastodon in Florida
Tusks and more than 200 sections of a mastodon's skeleton - including several skull fragments, a couple of vertebrae, and a 2' jawbone with several teeth - were unearthed in 2011 by workers digging a retention pond in Daytona Beach (video here). The prehistoric mammal lived 120,000 years ago, weighed 4-5 tons, and stood 8-10' tall. The remains went on display at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, which began with a rare opportunity to touch them. James Zacharias, a curator at the museum, commented, "Florida's a great Ice Age prehistoric graveyard. It's amazing to think these animals ran through here."

A mammoth in Siberia
The intact remains of an extinct woolly mammoth have been found in Sopochnaya Karga, Taimyr, Russia, near the polar weather station by Yevgeny Salinder, 11 (photos and video here). The animal's official name is Sopkarginsky Mammoth, but he is called Zhenya. When he was excavated from the permafrost in which he had lain for 30,000 years, specimens of skin, meat, and organs survived. One of his tusks is clearly visible. He was 15-16 years old and 1250lbs when he was alive. A large reserve of fat and the absence of an undercoat indicated Zhenya likely died in summer. Paleontologists were able to prove that the mammoth hump itself was a fatty deposit, and not a deviation of the spine. The mammoth will be exhibited at Taimyr Regional Museum and handed over to the Russian Academy of Sciences for study.
Love me some mammoths!

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