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Wilde About Texas: Fossilized history preserved in Waco
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About 70,000 years ago, Texas and the rest of the world were in an ice age.
Herds of mammoths roamed the grasslands. Those animals left remarkable history buried near Waco. Beneath the surface of what was once ranch land is a collection of fossils that provide a rare look at prehistoric Texas.
The Waco Mammoth Site was discovered in the 1970s when two men found a bone which seemed out of place.
"A little bit of excavation showed that it was much, much larger than any bone from any cow would be. They brought it to the attention of Baylor University and conducted an excavation," Waco Mammoth Site spokesperson Don Esker said. "In terms of importance, I would say it's off the scale for this area. It's priceless, it absolutely is. It's beyond anything on the continent."
A flash flood from the Bosque River was likely the cause of death for the more than two dozen mammoths found at the site.
"When the water came back down many of the animals were dead, the ones weren't dead were stuck in the mud and would have died from exhaustion," Esker said.
Many of the fossilized bones are being preserved by Baylor in a climate-controlled shelter, while others remain in the ground housed for visitors to see.
"The tusks are sticking out here and, just like modern elephant tusks, they are made of ivory."
The site offers a chance to get up close to the animals that used to call Texas home. The Waco Mammoth site is expanding and will soon feature hands on opportunities for kids to try their hands at paleontology.
The site is also being considered as a possible national monument.