Field Update 3: Scheuerman Mammoth Site; July 2, 2014

Excavations have concluded for the season at the Scheuerman mammoth site in Scott County, Kansas. Before the Odyssey team headed back to Lawrence for a well-deserved 4-day break last weekend, they spent some time uncovering, casting, and removing the mandible and thoracic vertebrae of the mammoth (Photos 1-3). This endeavor was not without a few challenges--the crew found themselves, once again, needing to work at a fast pace due to impending rain (Photo 4). In the two 10-day sessions, the site received ~7 in of rain, when on average, Scott County receives ~19 in of rain per year. To prepare for heavy rainfall, the crew secured tarps over the test units to protect the site. Heavy rainfall filled the tests units (Photo 5), which required bailing by hand with buckets. The crew is currently back at it and setting up at the Coffey Site in Pottawatomie County, Kansas, where the weather should be fantastic for the rest of the week! Stay tuned for updates!

Photo 1: Mammoth mandible.

Mammoth mandible.

Photo 2: Chris Hord builds a solid frame around the mandible cased in plaster for protection during transport.

Mandible encased in plaster; now a wooden frame is attached to the plaster.

Photo 3: The uncovered mammoth thoracic vertebrae.

Mammoth thoracic vertebrae still in the ground; photo documenting find before it is moved.

Photo 4: Helen Sangster screens excavated soil, looking for small bones and artifacts, as rain approaches.

Screen set up under tent; wheat ready for harvest in background; very dark skies on horizon.

Photo 5: Scheuerman test units full of rainwater.

Bright sunny day, wheat in background; dug pits fill of water from recent rains.

Text by Laura Murphy, Photos by Kale Bruner.

Field Update 2: Scheuerman Mammoth Site; June 23, 12014

Excavations continued at the Scheuerman mammoth site in Scott County, Kansas. The mammoth pelvis was successfully cast and removed (Photos 1-3), and will be transported back to the University of Kansas for study. After the pelvis was removed, excavations continued in other units to search for more potential mammoth bones where Ground Penetrating Radar anomalies were detected (Photos 4-6). With these efforts, the crew uncovered a mammoth rib bone (Photo 7). The rib bone exhibits some damage from a rodent; an active rodent burrow was present through the unit.

Photos 1 and 2: Members of the Odyssey crew engineering the removal of the Mammoth pelvis.

Members of the Odyssey crew engineering the removal of the Mammoth pelvis.

Finishing up casting the mammoth pelvis before removal.

Photos 3: The crew finishes casting the pelvis after removal.

The crew finishes casting the pelvis after removal.

Photos 4-6: The crew carefully shovel-skimming and troweling the soil in search of more mammoth bone.

Skimming off layers of soil.

Skimming off layers of soil.

Using a trowel to find and collect samples.

Photo 7. Mammoth rib bone exhibiting some damage from a burrowing rodent.

Closeup of rib bone from mammoth.

Photos by Kale Bruner, KU PhD student.

Field Update 1 at the Scheuerman Mammoth Site; June 9, 2014

On Friday evening, June 6, the Odyssey crew prepped for impending rain in Scott County, Kansas, after a week of working to excavate a Mammoth pelvis.

Storm approaching the Mammoth dig site in Scott County, Kansas.

Photo of Mammoth dig site with partial excavation.

Friday night, the site took 1.5 inches of rain with additional rainfall over the last several days. While the rain is much needed in western Kansas, it has slowed the progress of the Odyssey excavations. Efforts are underway to preserve and protect the exposed Mammoth pelvis from rain and mud. Here, the crew works to remove soil around the pelvis (Insert picture 104).

Photo of work extracting pelvis of mammoth.

Photos by Kale Bruner, KU PhD student.

Work from 2013

The Odyssey Crew casting mammoth bones for removal at the Scheuerman site in June 2013.
Crew members covering mammoth bones with plaster casts to protect them for transportation.

A 1.5-meter fragment of mammoth tusk uncovered at the Scheuerman site in June 2013.
Closeup of mammoth tusk.

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