The Mammoth Site Excavates a Mammoth Skull
Removing a skull from the bonebed
This summer, the Mammoth Site team undertook a major operation to remove a Columbian mammoth skull from the bonebed. The skull, which is mostly complete with one tusk intact, was nicknamed “Vee’s Skull” after Vetris Lamb, a longtime Mammoth Site volunteer who excavated in this area of the bonebed.
Work on the project began mid-way through June by preparing the surrounding area for the vigorous process of removal. Several dozen bones around the skull were covered by temporary plaster jackets and bubble wrap to prevent damage from tools, falling sediment, and excavators’ feet.
The skull was protected and supported by multiple layers of burlap and plaster as well as a metal frame. Ropes were used to secure the frame to the overhead bonebed crane.
After the top of the jacket was created, the team dug several tunnels beneath the skull, the longest of which was nearly 30” long. Burlap, plaster, metal bars and chains were put through the tunnels to support the skull from the bottom.
More and more dirt was dug away from under the skull until it broke free from the sediment pedestal and was supported only by the crane. The skull was then slowly flown across the west end of the bonebed to a cart waiting on the walkway.
Excavation will continue in the area cleared by the skull where several exciting specimens have already been recovered, including a giant short-face bear tooth and several non-mammoth ribs.
The skull will eventually be taken to the lab for cleaning and conservation.
Thanks to the many, many people who helped make this project a success!