Snowmass Turns Mammoth Discovery Over To Museum

Denver Museum Of Nature And Science Will Create Casts For Snowmass

Officials in Snowmass Village want experts to take control of the site where the bones of a mammoth were found earlier this month.

Directors of the town's water and sanitation district voted unanimously Monday to pursue a formal agreement with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. They want the museum to be responsible for digging up the bones and putting the bones on exhibit. In exchange, Snowmass would get a cast replica of each of the bones for their own display.

The real bones were put on display for three days last week and water district manager Kit Hamby told The Aspen Times that more than 1,000 adults and children came to see them.

Hamby said district workers are so busy showing off bones they can't do their regular jobs. Even police officers had to come out to direct traffic and keep a fire lane open as people waited for as long as an hour to see the bones.

The bones were discovered on Oct. 14 during a construction project.

Dr. Ian Miller, chair of the earth sciences department and curator of paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, said, "It is very complete, it is the most complete intact skeleton from high elevation. "It is very well preserved."

Miller told the Aspen Daily News that 20 percent of what appears to be a complete mammoth skeleton already has been exposed and the remainder of the animal is still sitting in a layer of peat, which helped keep oxygen from breaking down the original bone material.

The bones, from a juvenile mammoth believed to have died 10,000 years ago, have yet to be fossilized and are in near perfect condition.

Scientists have not yet determined if the mammoth is a rare “woolly” mammoth or a more common “Columbian” mammoth.

The board members also requested that the museum make allowances for school children and the public to visit the site during the dig, if feasible.