The Mammoth News
Fall 2010, Volume 22
This term we continued excavating in the field, shaving away walls about a half meter deep on the north and south sides of the site. On each side we found a rib, neither of which were well preserved. This brings our bone count to 145. We are still missing some key pieces – pelvis, left tibia, left ulna and radius, both fibulae. We have some pieces in the lab that may be parts of these bones, but no sign of the pelvis yet. After several weeks in the field, we successfully removed both of the ribs, mapping them and plaster jacketing them. Then we moved to the lab to gain experience there too.
In the lab, the students learned how to remove the plaster field jackets and then worked from the underside of each piece removing matrix to expose the bone. The underside of the bone is generally better preserved because it has not been exposed to the elements as long before the bone was buried. The class proved to be quite efficient at lab work and completed six pieces in the few weeks they worked there – five ribs and a small block that included what appear to be poorly preserved parts of two vertebrae (?). The vertebrae (?) and three of the ribs were removed from the site in the Spring 2010 term.
In the garage I had some teaching assistants working on the tusks. They were tasked with getting at the hard-to-reach parts of the tusks, repairing broken sections, and painting the repaired sections. Painting was done by a TA major in graphic design. We are nearly finished with preparing the skull block.
Looking Ahead. I am in the process of contacting people who can mount the skull block in the atrium of the Science Center. This will be a huge undertaking because of the not-so-perfect condition of the skull and tusks. We have to be so careful moving them, and yet we will need to turn them over again to build a support system for the underside, turn them back again to upright, tilt the block to get it out of the garage, around through the machine shop, which has double doors into the hallway, down the hall and into the atrium – the long way around when we are only 30 feet from the destination now, but separated by only a single door. Each time we move this block we have to rejacket it and secure it to a frame to keep from damaging it. This will be a challenge!
We had 120 visitors come for tours of the excavation site, lab, and skull block. These included participants on a public field trip sponsored by the St. Louis Science Center, the Principia 4th graders, science students from Triad High School in Troy, IL, the Chesterfield Montessori School 1st graders, and occasional drop-ins.
Janis Treworgy chaired a session at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Denver on solitary geoscience faculty doing research with undergraduates (yes, there are others in my situation). She gave a talk on projects she does with students including the mammoth project.