Tags: 42 | ancient | mastodon | bones | michigan | backyard

42 Ancient Mastodon Bones Dug Out of a Backyard in Michigan

By    |   Tuesday, 13 Jan 2015 06:41 AM

At first they thought it was a dinosaur, but two men digging in a Michigan backyard eventually uncovered 42 mastodon bones dating back more than 10,000 years.

Contractor Daniel LaPoint Jr. said he will donate the bones to the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology later this month, according to the Lansing State Journal. He and neighbor Eric Witzke spent days in November digging up the bones on the property southwest of Lansing before tracking down an expert.

Mastodons, distant relatives of elephants, weighed more than five tons and date back to the Ice Age. There are roughly 330 confirmed mastodon bone sites throughout Michigan, according to the Ann Arbor News.

Daniel Fisher, director of the University of Michigan's museum, told the State Journal that he believed the bones belonged to a male mastodon, approximately 37 years old. He added there's a chance more bones could be on the property waiting to be discovered.

"Preliminary examination indicates that the animal may have been butchered by humans," Fisher told the newspaper, noting that the bones showed signs of what look like tool marks, in places.

Fisher said most of Michigan's mastodon bones have been found in the southern half of the lower peninsula, with people only finding a tooth or a tusk. He noted that LaPoint's discovery includes several rib bones, leg, shoulder and hip bones, the base of a tusk and pieces of the animal's vertebrae.

LaPoint told the State Journal it was a lot of work pulling up the bones, but it was fun putting together the historic puzzle.

"I spend quite a bit of money to go on hunting trips," said LaPoint. "All of sudden this became a hunting trip right in the neighbor's backyard."

LaPoint said he recently took the collection over to Olivet Community Schools, where middle school students spent the day getting a closer look at them.

"Once these things go to the museum and get crated up, you're not going to get to touch them again," said LaPoint. "All the kids got to pick them up and hold them. Some kids, it was life-changing for them."

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At first they thought it was a dinosaur, but two men digging in a Michigan backyard eventually uncovered 42 mastodon bones dating back more than 10,000 years.
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2015-41-13
Tuesday, 13 Jan 2015 06:41 AM
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