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Davis Bone Site

Discovery and excavation of a Columbian Mammoth's right front foot.


This site was discovered during the winter of 2005-06 by Jim Davis. The site is located about a mile west of Studley, Kansas, and is in a sandpit owned by Mr. Davis.

Jim contacted a local museum and they stated it would be at least 6 months before they could investigate the find. Jim decided that was too long a wait, so he covered the bones with a black plastic sack and some sand to preserve the bones till they could be removed.

Jim contacted me on September 28, 2006, and he and I removed the fossil on October 3, a wait of about 5 days.

I arrived at the site about 10 am and excavation as shown below began at 11.

This is Jim's "home" away from home. Also serves as his office and computer repair shop. The sand pit is just over the hill to the north. This view is looking southwest.

These are the bones that were damaged during the initial excavation. No one realized there were bones here until they were noted in the sand pile.

Jim indicates this is about where the foot will be found. Lots of sand has been washed onto the site, so I started digging at this location.

This photo just shows the southwest wall of the sandpit and is taken from the main bone site.

After a few minutes of digging with a shovel, Jim decided to "speed up" the operation and use his backhoe. Here he's digging on the west side of the bones - hopefully not on top of them.

We're looking for a black plastic sack, and it's just made it's appearance. The elusive sack is in the center of this picture.

This is the condition of the site, when Jim moves his tractor around to the east side of the bones.

Jim removes the overburden from the east side of the bones. This will give us room to tip the plaster cast over and see what's on the under side. The bones are in the "shadow" of the backhoe arm at lower left.

The plastic sack has been removed. This is the first time these bones have seen the light of day, since about 12,000 years ago.

This photo shows the amount of overburden we've removed to get to this stage of the excavation.

All the overburden has been removed, and the bones are ready to be plastered for removal.

The bones have been plastered and now waiting about 45 minutes for the plaster to dry.

Now the plaster is dry. Time to tip it off its pedestal, and see what's on the underside. The plaster grasped all the bones except one toe bone still in the ground in this picture. That toe is the brown object near the left end of the cast. This was too heavy for us to lift, so Jim drove the backhoe up to the cast and we "walked" the cast into the bucket.

This is a view showing the magnitude of the pit. The plastered bones are about 20 feet ahead of the tractor.

This picture was taken from the same vantage point as the one above. This view is looking towards the north.

I unloaded the cast by sliding it out of the pickup onto my two-wheeler.

Some cleaning has been done and the bones are quite well preserved.

More cleaning reveals more phalanges (toe bones).

Just about ready to remove the bones from the top side of the cast.

The partial radius and ulna haven't made their appearance as yet.

Now the radius and ulna are visible. They're the larger dark brown bones at left and into the shadow.

Preparation is nearly complete. The next step is to move the bones to the backing of the display box.

The bones are ready to be slid onto the display box back.

My wife, Linda lends her hand to add scale to this foot. The foot is 13 inches wide and 19 inches long.

There a numerous little "gray balls" distributed throughout the foot, mainly on the toes. These are some type of mineral deposits that grew on the bones after the foot was reduced to a skeleton.

The completed display is back on the two-wheeler and on the way to its permanent display, with some of my other bones.

This is how the foot is displayed. The toes (phalanges) are to the right and the radius and ulna (the bones just above the ankle) are at left. The separate bone in the lower left corner is the distal end of the humerus.

This project was completed by 3 pm. However, later in the day Jim dug down another 6-8 feet at this location, which was at the water level, and didn't find anymore bones. Jim says he'll contact me if anything else shows up.

Pictured here is a complete foot of a Columbian Mammoth. This display illustrates the bones I removed at excavation in Sheridan County, Kansas.

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@ Bob Levin 2006