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Two Mammoths Found in Idaho
Discovery In Dry Lake Bed Draws Hundreds To Weekend Viewing
GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (AP) - The curiosity that drew hundreds to Tolo Lake during
the weekend to view mammoth fossils proves people are interested in the past,
Idaho State Historical Society Director John Hill says.
An effort by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the citizen's group
Friends of Tolo Lake to deepen the lake led to the discovery of at least two
mammoth skeletons estimated to be about 10,000 years old.
Heavy equipment operators turned up the first evidence of the mammoths Sept. 2.
The first official chance for the public to see the fossilized bones and tusks
was last Saturday. Hundreds of cars lined up at the site, including a few from
neighboring Washington and other states.
"I think this is great. It shows what the public interest is in paleontology,"
said Robert Yohe II, the state archaeologist and one of the first professionals
to view the discovery last Tuesday.
Yohe is helping direct an emergency effort to salvage the fossils. The project
is expected to take until late October. Once fall rains begin, the lake will
begin to fill back up.
Hill said the Idaho County Historical Society donated $300 to help pay for
radiocarbon dating of the fossils.
"There's wonderful cooperation here," he said.
Employees of Fish and Game, the National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Land
Management and Forest Service helped Saturday as more than 750 visitors were led
through a section of the dry lake bed.
University of Idaho archaeologist Lee Sappington served as an interpreter,
filling the crowd in on the fossils and the logistics of getting them out.
University of Idaho students recruited by Sappington and others kept busy
carefully scraping thin layers of dirt from around the massive bones while the
crowd filed by.
The tour will be repeated for the next few Saturday afternoons.
The work to remove the bones moved slowly Saturday, Yohe said, both because the
dirt was difficult to sift and because the bones and tusks were fragile, drying
and cracking as they were taken from the clay mud.
But Hill said discovering so many mammoths in one place was a "once in a
"It's like a shooting star," he said. "If you happen to be there at the right
time and the right place you see it, otherwise you never do."