You may not want to share the following news with your little ones, lest they be tempted to spend the entire summer digging up your backyard.
While traipsing through the woods in the back of their property, an Iowa father and his teenage sons stumbled across the strangest looking ball-like thing poking up from the creek. The father, John, took a closer look and saw a marking he recognized to be anything but belonging to lost sports equipment: a marrow line.
The three dug out what would later be identified as the femur of a mammoth.
John, who has an interest in archeology, eventually contacted researchers, and now volunteers from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are helping to excavate the entire area.
They are still working on dating the bone, which is about 4 feet long.
Finding mammoth fossils isn’t so uncommon in that part of the country, but it’s still an important discovery for researchers. John and his sons actually came across the bone two years ago, but only recently brought in the experts, which is an interesting choice.
Holmes Semken, professor emeritus of Geoscience at the University of Iowa, hopes to gather enough volunteers to keep digs going through the summer.
What happens to the bones? According to the Associated Press, they’re John’s. From the AP [via Yahoo!]:
“The bones really belong to the land owner,” said Semken. “Our agreement with him is we get the science.
Semken is interested in finding out how the animal died, but more importantly, how it lived.
He plans on studying the pollen samples and seeds lodged within the bones as well as the compound make up to understand the environment the mammoth lived in, what it fed on, and where it fed in terms of grassland or forest.
So there’s your summer boredom remedy: go look for backyard bones. You’re welcome!