Two students, Rich Judkins and James Aimonetti, did an independent course with Janis Treworgy during the summer to continue digging. They, along with fellow football buddy, Josh Steele, constructed a shelter over the pit under the supervision of Principia Facilities staff. Our shelter, dubbed “Benny’s Bone Hut,” has made our site management so much easier and we can now work in the rain!
The students also hand-augered a 25-foot deep hole in the pit floor to test the soil material. Information from this hole will help us date our mammoth. We have been able to mark key horizons already, and we hope to find microfossils in the samples.
Our goal for the summer was to remove the skull with tusks and teeth as one large block to work on it more carefully in the lab. As we were digging down around the block, we encountered bones! These bones are scattered on three sides of the skull block, with ribs on all three sides. We have been able to identify the humerus (arm bone between the shoulder and elbow), the patella (knee cap), and a vertebra. The patella is the only piece we were able to completely dig out and remove. There is plenty of work ahead of us. We did not get the skull block out this summer!
During the summer, we hosted several hundred alumni and other Principia friends at the dig site during the Alumni Reunion and Summer Session. It was great to see the enthusiasm you all expressed for this exciting project! We hope to see you back next summer!