|CONTEST TO NAME THE MAMMOTH AT NEVADA STATE MUSEUM, LAS VEGAS|
“What’s His Name” is no way to address a 65-year old. When that senior citizen is a 14-foot Columbian Mammoth who roamed the region more than 11,000 years ago, getting the name right is a very big deal. Now through Oct. 12, the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas is inviting the public to enter the Name the Mammoth Contest and suggest a name for its signature piece in celebration of National Fossil Day Oct. 17.
“We’ll post three finalist names on Facebook Oct. 15 and we’re asking the public to vote from the 15th to 18th,” said Museum Director Dennis McBride. “We’re hosting an exhibit from California’s San Bernardino County Museum highlighting their new research and discoveries in the Upper Las Vegas Wash. We know people will want to come see what they've found and maybe they'll be inspired to name this fine mammoth specimen.”
Nevada’s mammoth greets visitors front and center as they enter the permanent exhibit area of the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, which is also celebrating in October its first birthday in its new $51 million home on Valley View Boulevard at the Springs Preserve.
“People stand in awe, some kids scream in fear, some of our taller visitors reach up and try to touch the tusks,” McBride said. “Most take pictures so they can remember this magnificent animal who roamed Nevada.”
Posters for the 2012 National Fossil Day honor a Columbian Mammoth whose fossil remains were unearthed in the 1962 “Big Dig” at Tule Springs north of Las Vegas. Other remains continue to be discovered in the area. During the Pleistocene epoch that ended 11,700 years ago, the Columbian Mammoth was one of the largest prehistoric land mammals in the Americas and could be found grazing grasses and sedges in lower elevation temperate grasslands. Fossil specimens have been found to be 14 feet tall with 14 foot long tusks.
The museum’s mammoth is a replica of the Huntington Mammoth, a specimen unearthed at an elevation of 9,000 feet in Utah's Manti-La-Sal National Forest on Aug. 8, 1988. Being trapped in an ancient bog and frozen over many times, the ancient bones were remarkably well preserved. The recovered bones were never fossilized and intact proteins in the bone cells with DNA-bearing nuclei were still present as organic material. The preservation was so great that researchers could tell the stomach contained pine needles and that a broken leg had healed. The teeth indicated the mammoth was about 65 years old.
Since the remains were found on their land, U.S. Forest Service owns the skeleton and provided a grant to complete a detailed photographic catalogue of the bones. The skeletal remains are now housed in a specially designed storage facility at The Prehistoric Museum in Price, Utah.