Bones from Ice-Age Mammoth Found Underneath Oregon State University Football Field

One of the bones found beneath OSU's football field (PHOTO CREDIT: KPTV)
One of the bones found beneath OSU’s football field (PHOTO CREDIT: KPTV)

Oregon State University might want to consider changing its mascot after a monumental find yesterday (Jan. 25): The discovery of bones belonging to an ice-age mammoth within throwing distance of the school’s football field.

A construction crew working on an expansion and renovation of the OSU Beavers’ Valley Football Center uncovered the remains of the beast while digging in the north end of Reser Stadium. They found a large femur bone — likely a mammoth’s — as well as bones from other extinct, ice-age mammals, including a bison and what is either an ancient horse or a camel.

“There are quite a few bones, and dozens of pieces,” Loren Davis, an associate professor of anthropology at OSU, said in a statement. “Some of the bones are not in very good shape, but some are actually quite well preserved.”

Davis and his students have yet to determine the mammoth’s species — for instance, it could be a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) or a woolly mammoth (M. primigenius), although the latter tended to live farther north.

Davis’ team also plans to use radiocarbon dating to determine how long ago the mammoth lived. Radiocarbon dating can date once-living organisms back to about 50,000 years, although different methods can help date older organic material.

In Siberia, researchers recently found a 45,000-year-old mammoth carcass with injuries indicating that ancient humans had butchered it. But the newfound mammoth in Oregon bears no such injuries, suggesting that it died of natural causes, Davis said.

“They weren’t hunted by people, that’s clear,” he said. “Animals who were sick would often go to a body of water and die there, so it’s not unusual to find a group of bones like this.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Discovery News; LiveScience, Laura Geggel