The Mammoth News
Spring 2007, Volume 14
This term we made great progress in the lab and on the skull block, which is still in the Science Center garage. We worked on a number of bones and made the following progress:
- Left femur – finished cleaning and consolidating it (it was nearly completed in the fall); made a storage jacket for it
- Right femur – removed field jacket, removed matrix, cleaned, and consolidated both sides; made both storage jackets (each one is for half of the both) for it
- Several small bones (rib pieces, small vertebra, possible foot bone) – removed field jackets, removed matrix, cleaned, and consolidated them
- Large block of 5-6 vertebrae – removed field jacket, removed matrix, cleaned, and consolidated vertebrae, which included the axis, two cervical, and two thoracic vertebrae; some cleaning remains to be done in the fall
We continued to prepare the block to be turned over so that we can work on what was (while buried) the underside. We removed the right tibia from under the left tusk. They were in contact with each other and there was some damage to each as we separated them. The tibia is in the lab ready to be worked on. We removed the rest of the matrix beneath the tusks and tusk sockets (alveola) and trimmed as much as we could from around the skull without going under it. Then we added wet toilet paper around the exposed part of the tusks and all of the skull – it took a couple of days and about a couple dozen rolls of toilet paper; this paper protects the skeletal elements from direct contact with the plaster. Next we wrapped the tusks and tusk sockets in plaster burlap; we wrapped the skull in a thin layer of plaster gauze. Then we sprayed expandable foam all over the skull, allowing time between layers for the foam to set up and dry. The purpose of the foam is to help stabilize the skull without adding much weight.
During the winter, we participated in the Saturday Scholars Program. About 700 gifted high school students from several adjacent counties visited Principia College over two Saturdays to see and learn about our mammoth project and our solar car project. Janis Treworgy, Rachel Lindstrom, and Randi Frazier gave the tours.
During this spring term we hosted about 200 visitors including cub scouts, parents, alumni, geology students from Meramec Community College, Principia’s preschool, 4th graders from Shipman, the Godfrey Lion’s Club, and the Main Street Methodist Church. Students in the mammoth class gave most of these tours of both the lab and the skull block in the garage.
Janis Treworgy gave talks for several groups this winter and spring:
- Cub Scouts Blue and Gold Banquet, Town & Country, MO
- Jersey County Soil and Water Conservation District Annual Meeting
- Jerseyville Rotary Club Weekly Meeting
- Principia College – Dean’s Colloquium
- St. Louis Science Center
This year about 1600 people have either visited the site or attended a talk by Janis.
I am attaching a copy of the paper we published about our mammoth in a peer-reviewed journal, Quaternary International, published by Elsevier. Quaternary is the time period covering the last two million years, from the ice age to the present. Here is the reference:
Mammoth (Mammuthus sp.) excavation on a college campus in Western Illinois, USA, by Janis D. Treworgy, Jeffrey J. Saunders, and David A. Grimley, Quaternary International (2006), doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2006.08.001