1800 US-18 BYP P.O. Box: 692
Hot Springs, SD 57747 United States
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Mammoth Site Paleontology

Paleontology is the study of pre-existing life based on fossils. A fossil could be an actual portion of the animal, such as bones, teeth, or shells, or maybe replaced by minerals such as silica, iron and manganese as in petrified wood. A fossil may also be a track or a trail, an imprint or a cast, anything that indicates preexisting life forms. Through paleontology scientists hope to create a more complete understanding of how life has changed since it first appeared in the geologic record of time.

The Mammoth Site & Its Fossils

The majority of fossils found at the Mammoth Site are from the North American Columbian mammoth. Evidence of three woolly mammoths have also been discovered here, making this “east meets west mammoth gathering” the first time both species have been found together. Fossils of other Ice Age animals have also been discovered: camel, llama, giant short-faced bear, wolf, coyote and prairie dog to name a few. Imprint fossils of bird feathers, complete fish skeletons, and thousands of mollusk shells have also been recovered from this now-dry 26,000 year old sinkhole.

Not petrified, these fossils are dry and fragile. The bones, scat and shells are identified, numbered cataloged and preserved, with almost all the mammoth remains displayed in-situ (as they were found in the sinkhole).

Dr. Larry Agenbroad has been Principal Investigator at the Mammoth Site since 1974 when the first mammoth bones were discovered. Pictured here in the exhibit hall with the Arctodus simus (giant short-faced bear ) replica, Dr. Agenbroad has raised public awareness of the Ice Age and mammoths world-wide through his research and publications.

Our Visitors Say It Best…

leaf“The Mammoth Site is not just a window into the past—it’s as close to being a true time machine as you’ll find, with some of the best ice-age fossils on the planet on permanent display.”
Ross MacPhee,
Division of Vertebrate Zoology,
American Museum of Natural History, New York City

leaf“The students examined fossil and non-fossil examples then made their own fossil imprints. The students had great fun and loved the activity.”
Savage Branch Library
Howard County, MD

leaf“We used the Kindergarten through 5th grade kits for an evening program and presentation. The parents were very impressed and the teachers loved the completeness of the lesson plans. They were easy to work with also during class time.”
Meeker Elementary School District,
Meeker, CO