Dr. Jeffrey Saunders, Illinois State Museum

We have been fortunate to have the help and support of Dr. Jeffrey Saunders, vertebrate paleontologist and world-known mammoth expert. He is the curator and chair of the Geology Section at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. We have worked with Jeff from the inception of the project. He has taught us a lot about mammoths, showed us field techniques, helped us dig, and advised us along the way on many aspects of the project. We greatly appreciate his continued support.

Dr. Chris Widga, Illinois State Museum

Joining Jeff in the Geology Section at the Illinois State Museum in recent years, is Dr. Chris Widga who has a background in archeology with a focus on bison. Chris adds a new dimension to the museum’s research on Pleistocene fauna by doing studies with stable isotope data, which gives insight into ancient climates and ecosystems.

We often visit Jeff and Chris to see their collection of mammoth bones and teeth, as well as the Changes exhibit on the geology of Illinois in the museum. They visit us as well to see our progress and help us with various aspects of the project.

Dr. David Grimley and Dr. Leon Follmer, Illinois State Geological Survey

We have also benefited from the expertise of geologists from the Illinois State Geological Survey, Dr. David Grimley and Dr. Leon Follmer, who specialize in studying the soil material (loess) in which our mammoth is buried. Their expertise is critical in understanding the geology, which is helping us figure out the how and when of Benny’s demise.

Mr. Paul Countryman, Illinois State Museum

We are grateful to Paul Countryman, Exhibits Production Chief at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, for coming up with the design of the metal frame that we used to successfully turn over the skull block and support it as we work on the underside of the block.

Dr. Daniel Joyce, Kenosha Public Museum

Dr. Daniel Joyce, archeologist and Senior Curator of Kenosha Public Museum in Kenosha, Wisconsin, came to Principia College in the Spring 2004 with his ground-penetrating radar (GPR) equipment to help us determine which direction we should go to find more bones. I had met Dan at the 3rd International Mammoth Conference in the Yukon the previous year and invited him to test his then new equipment in our loess. He was interested and very generous – he did the work gratis ; we just covered some of his travel expenses. Thank you, Dan! We are awaiting results. Preliminary results on the west side indicated that there may be more bones to the west as far as four meters from our current wall. This is the direction in which we have been finding new bones. Extending the excavation farther west will require extending our shelter as well.

Learn about mammoths found in Wisconsin.

Mr. George Corner, Collection Manager, University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln

Mr. George Corner has graciously given our mammoth classes tours of Elephant Hall, an amazing “parade” of mammoths and other Proboscideans, and their extensive collection of mammoth bones that he manages in a separate building. We are so grateful for his willingness to meet us on the weekend.

Dr. George Engelmann, University of Nebraska-Omaha and Class of 1971

We are also fortunate to have a vertebrate paleontologist among our distinguished alumni! Dr. George Engelmann specializes in small mammals and has participated in several vertebrate paleontological digs, including one of an Allosaurus (large dinosaur similar to a Tyrannosaurus Rex) that required a helicopter to remove a major part of it.

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