Michigan: 15,000 Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton Found.

When Michigan farmer James Bristle was recently tilling his fields and his backhoe hit a snag, he was indeed in for quite a surprise. Thinking that he had unearthed nothing more than a rock, he had in actuality uncovered part of the pelvic bone of a giant mammoth that dated to no less than 15,000 years ago. He eventually came across other bones including the skull, the spine and the tusks. What is very interesting is that this mammoth had likely existed alongside early human hunters; its meat and fur prized possessions for an ancient culture.

Surprise and Amazement

Paleontologist Daniel Fisher of the University of Michigan stated that he believes the bones are between 11,700 and 15,000 years old. He also surmised that after the mammoth was initially killed, the hunters stashed the meat to preserve it for a later date. Although only 20 per cent of the total number of bones were recovered, this find is an interesting window into the not-so-distant past of our ancient human relatives. Mr. Bristle was quoted as saying that his young son simply "stood there with his jaw wide open and stared". Students of professor Fisher as well as family members of Mr. Bristle were involved in the subsequent recovery operation.

A Close History with Humans

Woolly mammoths were known to roam in the wild until they were hunted to extinction thousands of years ago. While slightly resembling the taxonomy of the modern elephant, these creatures were far larger and their woolly coats were used as protection against the elements during the last Ice Age. Mammoths were prevalent in what is now the central portion of the United States and it is thought that their population was well into the hundreds of thousands at one point. However, all of this changed when early humans began to hunt. Mammoths were an excellent source of food, their bones could be used as tools and their thick hides were able to be dried out and worn as clothing. All of these were indeed essential for the survival of our early ancestors. While it is still not certain exactly what caused the mammoths to go extinct, many believe that human predation played an important (if not the most important) role.
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