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Latest Research Findings

Channel Island Research

Published on June 4, 2014 under Current Research
Channel Island Research

For twenty years, the Mammoth Site has collaborated with Channel Islands National Park off the coast of southern California to collect, preserve and study fossils of the Channel Islands pygmy mammoth (Mammuthus exilis).  The pygmy mammoth evolved from Columbian mammoths (M. columbi) which colonized the islands during the Pleistocene.

An adult pygmy mammoth would have stood roughly 6′ tall at the shoulders, about 1/2 the height of a Columbian Mammoth.

In November 2013, the Mammoth Site Bonebed Curator and Preparator (Justin Wilkins and Monica Bugbee, respectively) traveled to the Channel Islands to collect a pygmy tusk eroding from a sea cliff.  They joined former Channel Islands Archaeologist and Mammoth Site Excavation Crew Chief, Don Morris.  The tusk was successfully collected along with several other specimens including a pygmy mammoth tibia and tooth plates, a giant deer mouse tibia, and two flightless goose femora.

Justin Wilkins and Don Morris working to remove the tusk from a nearly vertical cliff.

Justin Wilkins and Don Morris working to remove the tusk from a nearly vertical cliff.


The tusk still embedded in the the wall of sediment.

The tusk still embedded in the the wall of sediment.