From the Annals of the Extinct – In 2000, part of what is now the Waco Mammoth National Monument opened. The WMNM is at a site where a herd of mammoths were trapped during a flood about 68,000 years ago. The area contains the remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths, along with the remains of associated animals of the late Pleistocene, including Western Camel (Camelops hesternus), saber-toothed cat (Homotherium), dwarf antelope (cf. Capromeryx), American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), and giant tortoise (Hesperotestudo). The site contain the Nation’s only recorded discovery of a nursery herd (females and offspring) of Pleistocene mammoths, comprising at least 18 of the unearthed mammoths.
President Barack Obama announced today that the Waco Mammoth Site will be designated as a National Monument. The site is home to the nation’s only nursery herd of Columbian mammoths. The site was discovered in 1978 by Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin who were searching for arrowheads and fossils near the Bosque River. Instead, they found a large bone in an eroded ravine. Recognizing the unusual nature of the find, they removed the bone and took it to the Strecker Museum at Baylor University for examination. The bone was identified as Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). Museum staff members quickly organized a team of volunteers and excavation began at the site which continued for almost 30 years.
The site opened to the public in 2009. It contains the excavated remains of 22 female and baby mammoths, which make up a nursery herd. Some of them drowned about 65,000 years ago when the Bosque River flooded and trapped them in a steep channel. Later floods buried the remains. The origin of the other fossils at the site is unclear.
“These unique and well-preserved remains provide superlative opportunities for scientific study,” the White House said in an announcement, calling the site “a rare opportunity” for research.