One year after the chance discovery by a farmer near Chelsea, the University of Michigan will publicly display the bones of a mammoth that lived more than 10,000 years ago. The exhibit opens on November 5 at the university’s Museum of Natural History, according to an article by MLive. The museum built a fourth-floor room to house the mammoth discovered in a soybean field on October 1, 2015.
University of Michigan paleontologist Daniel Fisher, who is overseeing the analysis of the remains, said in a statement:
What’s so interesting about the Bristle site is that there’s a mammoth with evidence of human association at a very early date—well before Clovis times.
Jim Bristle, a farmer in Lima Township, discovered the mammoth bones while he was installing a drainage pipe in one of his fields. He called the University of Michigan, and experts have recovered about 40% of the mammoth’s skeletal mass, including the skull and tusks.
“I didn’t realize how big this was going to be, how important it would be to a lot of people. It’s still overwhelming to me,” Bristle said. “Any inconvenience to us is a small price to pay for what we may learn. Who am I, in the whole scheme of things, to stand in the way of learning more about our past?”
The bones Bristle found were only 10 feet below the surface. It has been determined that the mammoth was a male, about 45-years-old, and was probably a hybrid between a woolly mammoth and a Columbian mammoth. It is estimated that he lived between 11,700 and 15,000 years ago. Experts also found strong evidence that the he was killed by human hunters, and the meat was stored in what was once a pond.
Several days after the dig, Bristle donated the mammoth bones to the University of Michigan. The discovery gained the public’s attention. A crowdfunding campaign raised $17,000 for the museum exhibit ($48,000 overall with direct mail contributions). Additional funds were raised to enhance the exhibit by adding 3-D digital models, full-size casts of tusks and programs for children visiting the mammoth bones.