When he was President, Barak Obama gave a gift to the American people that he is not getting much credit for. He either set aside or expanded public lands and put them under the protection of the National Park Service. Many are now new National Monuments. Estimates vary but most would agree that Obama was responsible for more than 30 additions, which is more than any other president. By contrast, George Bush designated 6. On the last day of January, Ruth & I visited Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum and saw its mammoth display. On February 1 we visited the new Waco Mammoth National Monument.
During the Pleistocene Epoch, also known as the Ice Age, a complete herd of Columbian mammoths was buried in a river bed north of present-day Waco. What exactly happened to trap them is still not known. Nevertheless, scientists from many disciplines study the site to learn from it. The Mayborn display reported that there were 23 mammoths found. Our tour guide at Waco Mammoth National Monument told me that another has been discovered. Not only were there 24 mammoths in the ancient river bed, there was also a humpless Western camel, a saber-toothed cat, and more.
The first bone was found in 1978 and Baylor’s Strecker Museum got involved. Its staff identified it as a mammoth femur. Research between 1984 and 2001 uncovered the bones of 23 mammoths and researchers reported our nation’s 1st and only evidence of a nursery herd of Ice Age mammoths. The site was named a National Monument by President Obama in July, 2015. A shelter with a suspended walkway already existed because the site was a city park that had opened to the public in 2009. I recommend a guided tour. We benefited from listening to well-informed Jeremy.
The Columbian is a distant relative of the wooly mammoth that lived much farther north. Columbians were taller, averaging 14 feet, and heftier, more than 8,000 pounds heavier. They spent their days eating and pooping and had 6 sets of teeth during their lifetimes. With hair like a buffalo, Columbian mammoths required a moderate temperate zone to thrive, and there is evidence that they lived as far south as present day Costa Rica.
Jeremy told us that there are 8 significant mammoth sites in the world. Two are in the United States. The other one is in Hot Springs, South Dakota. It has already found 58 Columbian and 3 Wooly mammoths. Questions remain. What caused the death of the 24 mammoths near Waco? Can scientists use DNA and existing elephants to re-create living mammoths?