Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

August 26, 2013

Mahaska mammoths taught summer lessons

OSKALOOSA — The mammoth dig site in rural Mahaska County has been a boon for educators as they uncover more fossils this summer.

Oskaloosa Herald staff and their family members had the opportunity to help researchers at the dig site Saturday. There were about a half dozen adults and five children who traveled to the site to help researchers.

As the group gathered for the trek to the site, Dave Brenzel of the Indian Creek Nature Center did a mammoth workshop for the group.

Brenzel showed the group bags of mammoth fossils that had been collected over the summer.

"We're getting these ready to go out to William Penn," he said. There were at least 50 baggies full of fossils, he added.

"This is the summer stuff and we're going to have a couple more buckets," Brenzel said.

So far, researchers have confirmed there's three mammoths at the site and there could be one more, that is unconfirmed. An expert from Illinois, Chris Widga, will visit the site in October to inspect the bones, he said.

Brenzel said the Mahaska County site is significant because the mammoths were found in their natural habitat.

"They lived right here and they died where they lived," he said. "There's a lot of mysteries about how they lived."

Elephants are a lot like mammoths — their Ice Age relatives.

"They like water. Elephants need a lot of water," Brenzel said.

Brenzel got out some mammoth toe bones for the children to hold. Mammoths had five toes per limb, he said.

At the site, the Herald volunteers got to sift through lots of sand and clay in search of mammoth fossil fragments.

"We've been finding pieces of bone in here and a couple of Indian arrowheads," Brenzel said.

The volunteers encountered a lot of blue colored clay in the excavations.

Dr. Jim North of William Penn University said the blue color comes from iron that has not oxidized.

"It shows that the area doesn't have a lot of oxygen," he said. As a result, the mammoth bones are well preserved, he added.

"It's a very blue 'Smurf' color when you pull it out," North said.

North said he is making plans to have some of his William Penn science students help with the mammoth bones.

"I'm working on it in my head now," he said.

North said he would like to have three freshmen start on bone restoration. Since the mammoth dig is a multi-year project, it will be an excellent learning opportunity for them.

"This is master degree and Ph. D-type work," he said.

Also, North would like to examine some mammoth fossils with the scanning electron microscope at William Penn.

"I've written a copule of proposals for the scanning electron microscope," he said.

1
Text Only
CNHI/SE Iowa
  • 0425 OTT eagle stock photo Mahaska Co. man accused of killing bald eagle NEW SHARON — A Mahaska County man faces federal charges after allegedly beating a bald eagle to death and decapitating it. Jason John Thomas was arrested in New Sharon after being indicted by a federal grand jury. He is accused of killing the eagle i

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo