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Man unearths mastodon bones in Virginia by accident – KEPR 19

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YORK COUNTY, Va. (WSET) — A man unearthed 200 mastodon bones, dating back 15,000 years to the Ice Age, from a wooded area in Yorktown!

This was the second mastodon discovered in Virginia and the first discovered east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


According to WVEC, the bones were gifted to the Virginia Living Museum, where they are working on preserving them and then putting them on display.

Mastodons were elephant-like mammals found primarily in North and Central America, usually living in spruce woodlands around valleys and swamps.

They were similar to our modern day elephants, but had much smaller ears and foreheads and were covered in hair according to LiveScience.

The Virginia man discovered the bones by accident after wandering through the woods.

The Virginia Living Museum is now starting the process of preserving the bones, which could take years because they are so fragile.

Fred Farris, the Director of Exhibits at Virginia Living Museum, said the mastodon is a rare discovery and needs to be preserved for future generations.

He explained some of the discoveries they’ve already made from the fossils, saying a worn out tooth showed the mastodon struggled to eat. A large dent was found in the chewing area as well, which Farris said probably meant it had tooth decay.

“It was probably in pain and the jaw had a huge hole, so it had a big infection in the jaw,” explained Farris.

The Virginia Association of Museums recently added the Virginia Living Museum’s mastodon bone collection to Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts list.

You can vote on your favorite artifact, and the two top winners will receive conservation grants from the museum association.

The list’s purpose is to bring the past to life and highlight the need for conservation.

The other nine Endangered Artifacts on the list are:

  • Amherst County Historical Society (Amherst County, VA)
  • Fairfield Foundation (Gloucester, VA)
  • Friendship Firehouse Museum (Alexandria, VA)
  • James Monroe Museum (Fredericksburg, VA)
  • Mosby Area Heritage Association (Fauquier County, VA)
  • Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (Winchester, VA)
  • Red Hill-Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation (Campbell County, VA)
  • Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park (Big Stone Gap, VA)
  • Town of Wytheville Museums/Wythe County Historical Society (Wythe County, VA)

You can vote from January 22 to January 31.

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