The Mammoth News
Fall 2008, Volume 18
This fall our class started in the lab working on a cluster of broken ribs that overlapped one another. It was like pick-up-sticks! Preservation was not good, but it was a useful exercise in learning how to clean and consolidate bone. Among the ribs was a relatively well preserved bone from the proximal end of the rear foot called the calcaneum. Another bone that we worked on was the first bone removed from the pit in the summer of 2002. It appears to be one of the sacral vertebrae, five of which fuse as one piece to form the sacrum. The sacrum is fused laterally with the pelvis, anteriorly with the lumbar vertebrae (lower back bones) and posteriorly with the caudal vertebrae (tail bones).
We also worked on the skull block. We unjacketed the tusk socket area where the tusks protrude from the skull and uncovered both tusks and their sockets. The sockets are broken up perhaps due to rotation of the tusks after the organic material had decayed. We found a rib that had been buried under the tusks in this area as well. We also worked on the tusks from the tip end, continuing from the spring. We have encountered damaged areas on both of them that requires great care in cleaning and consolidating. They are cleaning up beautifully!
The term we had a variety of visitors for whom we gave tours including the Trustees Council, Cub Scouts from Hamel, IL, Fourth Graders from Principia School, and several small groups from the area.
We helped host the Leadership Conference for Discovery Bound, a program for high school-aged Christian Scientists, by giving participating students the opportunity to tour the mammoth lab and make plaster-of-Paris casts of mammoth teeth.
We had a tent at Homecoming where people could see photos and bone casts of mammoths and kids could make a plaster-of-Paris cast of a mammoth or other Proboscidean tooth to take with them.