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What Appears to Be a Complete Mammoth Skeleton Was Discovered in an Idaho Ditch

A nearby reservoir has just covered the fossil in water, however, postponing the excavation

The skeleton was discovered near the American Falls dam and reservoir in Idaho. (Photo: Staplegunther)
smithsonian.com

An amateur fossil hunter made an jackpot discovery while sleuthing around the American Falls reservoir in Idaho: the remains of what seems to be a complete mammoth skeleton. Part of the skeleton was jutting out of an irrigation ditch about 30 feet below the reservoir's high-water mark, On Your Side Newsroom reports. A team from Idaho State University quickly got to work excavating it before the water began to rise.

The mammoth died when it was about 16 years old and lived 70,000 to 120,000 years ago, when Idaho was a vast savannah populated by large mammals, Salon writes. So far, researchers have been able to recover a partial skull and tusk. But the experts think an entire skeleton might await excavation—a rare and important find. 

Time, however, was not on the team's side. The reservoir recently rose, submerging the excavation site. Salon reports that the researchers secured the site so the fossils will stay in place while they are underwater, but the dig will have to wait until next summer to resume, when water levels once again subside.  

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