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Mammoth Dig Begins In Ellis County

Mark Schnyder CBSDFW.com
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ELLIS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) - A mammoth gift to the Perot Museum.  Literally.

An Ellis County gravel pit owner is donating a rare find… a nearly complete skeleton of a mammoth discovered while digging sand and gravel.  Marty McEwen was doing the digging in May when he found something big in size and bigger in significance.

“Had reached over to start digging the cushion sand and just the first bucket swipe we hit the tusk of the mammoth,” said McEwen, the son of the landowner.

McEwen says he’s used to finding a bone here or there, even sharks teeth, but nothing like this. He contacted a friend who knew a paleontologist and it soon became clear they had an eight or nine foot tall mammoth on their hands that roamed Ellis County 20,000, 40,000, perhaps even 60,000 years ago.

It take a lot to impress Perot Museum Paleontologist  Ron Tykoski. He’s impressed with this.

“Usually you just get a few scraps, a tooth here, a tusk there a little bone fragment that turns up in a creek but son of a gun, we’ve got the whole thing here,” says Tykoski.   “This is awesome.”

Tykoski’s crew is extracting the mammoth piece by piece, chunk by chunk. They’ll wrap it all up in plaster and burlap and carefully, little by little take it back to the museum to study it and preserve it.

The landowner couldn’t be more thrilled to see all the excitement out here and donate the mammoth remains to the Perot.

“Well it’s huge to find a complete skeleton,” says Wayne McEwen who’s owned the property about a dozen years.   “There’s lots of mammoths around the country and around here but there’s not complete mammoths and this one’s close to 100-percent.

“Every time we find one of these it allows us to paint a little more accurate picture about a species of elephant that lived right here in North America up until 10,000 years ago,” says Tykoski.

The mammoth skeleton is known as, “Ellie Mae” since it was discovered in Ellis County in May.  It will take a few years for Perot Museum researchers to catalog all the bones.

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