UNDERGRADUATES PARTICIPATE IN EXCAVATING A WOOLLY MAMMOTH ON CAMPUS!
The Principia mammoth was found at a depth of about 2 m within a highly leached, yellow-brown loess unit known regionally as the Peoria Silt (late Wisconsin Episode). Total loess thickness (Peoria and Roxana Silts) at the site is about 9.5 m. Middle Mississippian limestone forms the bedrock, which is estimated to be 1 to 2 m deeper. The mammoth is a mature male, estimated to have been (1) 39 to 43 years of age (African Elephant Years) based on its teeth, (2) about 3.3 m in height at the shoulders based on the length of the humerus, and (3) living about 17,500 (14C) years ago based on its stratigraphic position within the Peoria Silt. The skull is inverted and, except for the two maxillary molars (M3s) and ventral proximal portions of the tusks, still unexcavated. The tusks and M3s are articulated, as the skull also appears to be. The mandible is missing. Limb bones, scapulae, ribs, and vertebrae are variably dispersed and have shallow plunges, suggesting only minor disturbance of the remains prior to their burial on a flat paleosurface. The cause of his demise remains unknown, but entices our imagination and demands our best detective work.