Mammoth skull to be studied

Scientists have begun their research and preservation of the mammoth skull that was excavated in September on Santa Rosa Island.

The public is invited to attend, and will also have opportunities to observe researchers who will be working on the mammoth skull every Saturday and Monday afternoon, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm, throughout the month of February, at the at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

“The museum is excited to share this intriguing discovery. This mammoth find is of high scientific importance as it appears to have been on the Channel Islands at nearly the same time as humans,” stated Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History President and CEO Luke Swetland.

U.S. Geological Survey geologists have dated charcoal samples adjacent to the specimen to approximately 13,000 years. The dating is significant, since it coincides with the age of Arlington Man, the oldest human skeletal remains in North America. Similar soil samples will also be analyzed to give researchers more information.

The National Park Service, The Mammoth Site, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History are working in close partnership to protect and preserve the mammoth specimen and conduct a multidisciplinary research process, which is expected to occur over the next few years.

Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau said, “The National Park Service is very grateful to be working in partnership with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Mammoth Site to conduct research on this rare mammoth skull, in an effort to uncover some mysteries associated with mammoth migration, the downsizing to a pygmy form, and the eventual disappearance of mammoths from the Channel Islands.”

Mammoths roamed the continent of North America beginning approximately two million years ago, with Columbian mammoths appearing a million years later. 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.

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