All the way back in 2010, a family in Iowa was met with quite the surprise. While out picking berries in their Oskaloosa backyard, they stumbled on something… strange.
Peeking out from a patch of mud along a seemingly bone-dry creek was an artifact no one could quite identify. Upon closer inspection, however, it was revealed to be an object out of their grade school textbooks.
With each layer of dirt that the family removed, they got more and more of a glimpse at just how rare this discovery was.
When an Oskaloosa, Iowa family were out picking berries in their backyard one day in 2010, they came across a strange item in the mud. Upon investigating, they realized there was more to this discovery than they’d initially thought.
After digging further and further down, they decided this was no average find. Soon enough, they knew it wasn’t a rock or anything like that—it was a bone. A really big bone.
It was then that they saw the bone was actually the remains of a leg, and it belonged to a very large creature. The knee joint alone was about as big around as a soccer ball!
Eventually, the family had to call in some experts to make sure the remains were uncovered carefully.
By the time the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History showed up to assist, about 20 bones had already been unearthed at the site.
The bones included ribs, phalanges, and pieces of vertebrae.
As it had turned out, the family had discovered one of the largest deposits of Ice Age mammoth bones the region had ever produced.
Two years after the initial discovery, hundreds of volunteers had helped the family dig up a truly historic piece of archeology.
By 2015, the bones of three different mammoths had been found.
For a long time, it was believed that the remains belonged to the Columbian mammoth, which widely roamed the Iowa region.
Following an examination of the teeth, however, researchers found that the bones belonged to woolly mammoths, which were much rarer in the region.
This suggested that the two species of mammoth may have interacted more than scientists previously believed.
With this in mind, scientists have been working to paint an updated picture of what life must have been like back then for the mammoths who lived there.
Of particular interest to experts were the bite marks that appeared on all of the bones.
Researchers also hoped to examine the soil and plant samples they found near the mammoth remains. This would offer a valuable glimpse into the lives of the huge, ancient beasts.
All of this just lying in a family’s backyard!
The patriarch of the family, John, suggested that he might have to build a new room in their house just to house all of the bones!
Still, most of the bones would need to be further examined by experts at the university.
They would need to use carbon dating to figure out what year the mammoths likely died. They could also determine what sort of food they ate.
What a fascinating find to uncover right in their own backyard!
You never quite know what could turn up in your backyard! For John and his family, it just happened to be the discovery of a lifetime.
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