Mammoth discovery made in Southeast Texas by TASA
Artist conception of a woolly mammoth that roamed the earth 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.
Mark Dunn – For The Record
A mammoth discovery has been made in Southeast Texas.
The partial skeletal remains of a woolly mammoth that roamed the area between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago is being excavated by the Texas Archeology Association based in East Texas. The exact location of the find is being kept under wraps until the TAA has completed their search for other bones belonging to the mammoth.
Casey Roby and family came across the bones of a wooly mammoth in Southeast Texas while on a weekend outing on privately owned land. Roby was initially unsure of the origin of the bones, so contacted Bruce Lockett, director TASA, for information.
Roby and Lockett of Vidor had worked on historical projects together in the past. TASA volunteers began researching skeletal records of prehistoric animals known to have roamed the area and determined the remains to be bones of a mammoth. The remains have been dubbed the TASA Mammoth for purposes of documentation and recognition.
“Texas is rich in prehistoric remains, so this site, though exciting is not extremely rare,” Lockett said. “Early man hunted these animals for meat, fur, bone and tusks. Some bones have washed up along the shoreline at McFaddin Wildlife Preserve and others have been found throughout the state.”
According to Lockett, a shoulder bone, leg bone and knee cap, alone with other portions of the leg and shoulder were among segments found at this site, which extends across a broad area. Initial examination showed the bones to be in good shape. A fossilized hood of an unknown animal also was located near the site, which is being kept secret in order to preserve it for complete exploration and excavation. Preliminary investigation showed that the bones might have been broken to trench the interior marrow, which served as food for early man.
Lockett believes the mammoths that made their way to Southeast Texas were drawn here by the salt domes. Naturally, early Amerindian tribes followed the mammoths into the area for food and clothing.
“In some cases bone was crushed, apparently to make weapons or other items,” Lockett said. “Knife marks on the bone indicate that the meat was cut from the bones and also make it unlikely that an animals might have carried off portions of the bones, though the mammoth might have been sectioned and distributed to other members of a tribal group.”
The size of the leg and shoulder bone would have placed the mammoth’s belly at about six feet high, with another six to eight feet of body mass above that. The weight of the prehistoric beast would be estimated at eight to 10 tons.
According to Lockett the skeletal remains of the mammoth will be housed in Orange County at the future Landmark Museum of History in East Texas in Vidor. The Landmark Museum of History will open in January.
TASA documented and verified the find with measurements, photographs, comparison photos of bones at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and other information. The bones found were an absolute match, though follow-up contact with the museum is planned. University verification of the age of the bones also will be part of the study. Lockett has set up teams within TASA, which has worked closely with the Texas Historical Commission and Division of Archaeology in Louisiana in the past, to continue studying the find. Packets will be forwarded to those two state groups seeking guidance in that research.
Searching for additional finds at the site will continue with Roby serving as the lead project manager. Pat Young, Clifford Caruthers, Jim Gill and Barney Anders will lead portions of the project involving searches to examine vegetation, land conditions, conditions of the bones another remains in the area that may be found or night already have been found. John Lockett will be directing the research and development areas of the project gathering information and documenting the finds. Bruce Lockett says there is a high concentration of vegetation in the area, so he expects the discovery and research to be a slow process.
Those interested in helping with research, documentation, or the site project may contact TASA to volunteer by calling 409-951-9368, 409-769-8955 or writing to TASA at PO Box 905, Vidor, Tx. 77662.
“We have only found a few pieces of the puzzle,” Bruce Lockett said. “This is the tip of the iceberg for research.”