|2/3. The mammoth hair as it was found at the site. (Photo courtesy Mark Hylkema)|
Artichoke farmers plowing their fields in northern California have reaped a strange harvest: a trove of exotic animal fossils, including camel, mastodon and — most striking of all — the first known remains of a Columbian mammoth with strands of its hair still intact.
Since the dense deposit of Ice Age bones was first unearthed in 2011, near Castroville in Monterey County, archaeologists and paleontologists have been working to tease data out of the remains, and also piece together how so many animals could end up in the same ancient grave.
“We have bison, we have camel, we have horse, we have mastodon — that’s a pretty diverse range of animals for that one spot,” said Mark Hylkema, an archaeologist with California State Parks who’s coordinating the all-volunteer effort to study the site.
“So it begs the question: How did so many bone elements get deposited at this place?”
The tantalizing find has drawn experts from across the U.S. and Europe to help excavate, preserve, and analyze the remnants. [...] westerndigs.org