Saturday, October 3, 2015 article on Chelsea mammoth

A woolly mammoth skeleton was recovered near Chelsea, Michigan, and may show signs of human butchering.
Mammoth remains could be oldest evidence for humans in southeast Michigan.
A mammoth whose skeleton was removed from a Washtenaw County field this week may have been butchered by humans, the University of Michigan announced in a press release issued Friday.  If the extinct elephant relative remains were indeed cut by humans and found to be older than about 12,000 years old, they could be the oldest evidence for humans in southeast Michigan.

The mammoth bones were recovered from a farm owned by James Bristle in Lima Township near the city of Chelsea, Michigan, about ten miles southwest of Ann Arbor.  A team of University of Michigan paleontologists led by Professor Daniel Fisher, along with excavator Jamie Bollinger of Bollinger Sanitation and Excavating in Chelsea, who donated his time, were able to recover about 20 percent of the animal's bones, including the skull and two tusks, numerous vertebrae and ribs, the pelvis, and both shoulder blades.

Fisher described the age of both the site and the animal. "It was an adult male, 40 to 50 years of age, and stood probably 10 feet tall at the shoulder," he told  The Detroit News.  The animal, likely a woolly mammoth instead of its larger relative the Columbian mammoth, died between 15,000 and 11,700 years ago.

In the University of Michigan press release, Fisher said that the site held "excellent evidence of human activity" associated with the mammoth remains.  "We think that humans were here and may have butchered and stashed the meat so that they could come back later for it," he continued.
Click on the link in the headline for more about the discovery and a Reuters video that is higher quality than the following clip from Wochit: Holy Woolly Mammoth!!! Michigan Farmer Unearths Prehistoric Skeleton.

A Michigan soy farmer made the astonishing discovery while he and a friend were digging in his soy field. James Bristle, from Lima township just south-west of Anne Arbor, told media that what he initally thought was a fence post turned out to be a rib bone and the first part of a woolly mammoth skeleton, including its skull and tusks.
Stay tuned for Entertainment Sunday.  I might be up for two posts.


  1. Because I'm in a commentin' mood tonight, this also piqued my interest. The part about humans butchering the mammoth, especially. It dovetails with some of the concepts in a book I'm reading titled "The Future Eaters" by an Australian author named Tim Flannery. He's kinda like the Aussie equivalent to Farley Mowatt or Jared Diamond/E.O. Wilson. Have you read any of his stuff?

    One of Flannery's points in this book is that in the "arms race" for survival in humanity's home ground of Africa, animal species co-evolved with the slow pace of humans' increasing lethality. Hyenas, lions, even non-killing animals such as gazelles, matched survival strategies with human capabilities. But when (non-Neanderthal) humans somehow got the spark to expand into other continents, the critters they found there had no idea what to make of these puny but vicious two-leggers. Thus were the mega-fauna of Australia extincted by the first wave of Aborigines, and New Zealand's moas (plus a lot of other less charismatic species) massacred by Maoris. Flannery is controversial for suggesting that, because it tarnishes the portrayal of traditional peoples as benign stewards of the land. I reckon they were as hungry, greedy and lacking in foresight as us moderns. As, no doubt, were the first invaders of the pristine, naive New World who ate every last mammoth.

    1. I haven't read Flannery's work, but I am familiar with his thesis, which I recall reading in a book called "Quaternary Extinctions," published in 1984. It's one of the hypotheses explaining why the Pleistocene megafauna survived in Africa and South Asia, where humans and large mammals co-evolved, but went extinct elsewhere as shortly after modern humans arrived. In fact, I tell that story to my students.

      As for his portrayal being unflattering to the original inhabitants of the land, too bad. I suspect that the "light on the land" practices of the first peoples were a reaction to how badly they screwed things up when they began their residence in new lands.