Rare mammoth fossil excavated on Santa Rosa Island

A team of scientists recently unearthed an exceptionally well preserved fossil of a complete mammoth skull from an eroding stream bank on Santa Rosa Island.

The team, consisted of retired National Park Service archaeologist Don Morris,  Mammoth Site paleontologist Justin Wilkins and Monica Bugbee.

“This mammoth find is extremely rare and of high scientific importance. It appears to have been on the Channel Islands at the nearly same time as humans,” Wilkins said.

Geologists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have dated charcoal samples adjacent to the specimen to approximately 13,000 years old. The dating is significant since this time period coincides with the age of Arlington Man, the oldest human skeletal remains in North America, also found on Santa Rosa Island.

It is believed that the Columbian mammoths migrated to the Channel Islands during the past two ice ages when sea levels were lower and the island land mass was closer to the mainland coast.

Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russel Galipeau said, “One of the purposes of the park is to provide scientific value. This project is a great example of a multidisciplinary collaboration to learn about the prehistory of the park.”

The mammoth specimen was first discovered in September 2014 by National Park Service biologist Peter Larramendy, who noticed an ivory tusk protruding from gravel sediment in the canyon wall while he was conducting a stream study.

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