For one of the days we spent in the Custer area of South Dakota we decided to head about 40 minutes south to Hot Springs and see what was there, hoping it would be more interesting than Hot Springs, AR… Sure enough, it turned out to be another resort town where the local businesses have built tourist traps right over the top of almost all of the natural springs. I think we had expected that though, and honestly, we’d come to check out the Mammoth Site since we had seen it in a pamphlet and it had piqued our interest. We weren’t really sure what it was at first though, since the literature presented it as one of those “great for the whole family” attractions. I remember mentioning to C, just after we parked and were on our way in, “do you think this is going to be interesting or just kind of hokey?” Thankfully, we were really impressed with the place.
Long story short, the Mammoth Site started as an ancient sinkhole where several different species of mammoth (and a few other ancient animals) fell in, got stuck in the mud, and died. Over time, a spring continuously pumped water and mud into the sinkhole and preserved all of the remains. Fast forward to the 1970s: a bulldozer operator is starting flatten out parts of a hill so houses can be built and discovers some very large bones. The whole area was turned over to a non-profit research foundation, a climate controlled building was built over the top of it, and they’ve been slowly digging up tons and tons of very well preserved remains of mammoths, giant short-faced bears, and other critters ever since. Our tour guide said they’d discovered 60 intact skeletons of various mammoths as well as countless other creatures. They estimate that they can continue to dig for another 30 years before getting to the bottom of the bone pile. For more information, check out their website: http://www.mammothsite.com If you are ever in the area, definitely go check it out.
(Die folgenden Bilder sind von Mammut Knochen, die ausgegraben wurden und werden für die Forschung erhalten.)
The arrows show mammoth foot prints as they walked through the mud from above.
(Die Pfeile zeigen Mammut Fußspuren, wie sie durch den Schlamm gingen.)