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Mammoth bones a big deal at Oregon State

Students dig for mammoth bones at Oregon State on Friday, January 29, 2016 (SBG photo)

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University anthropology professor Loren Davis and his students searched for additional bones and fragments Friday in soil excavated from the construction site at Reser Stadium where crews unearthed what appears to be mammoth bones.

It certainly wasn't your typical class assignment. Students at Oregon State University got to excavate mammoth bones at Reser Stadium Friday afternoon. For some anthropology students, like John Krier, it was an experience of a lifetime.

"Ever since I was a little kid I've wanted to dig up a mammoth, so this is very very exciting for me," Krier said.

"This is super cool. I think I found a bone fragment," marketing student Miranda Crowell said, examining a mud covered bone in her hand.

The bones of the mammoth and several other extinct animals were initially discovered on Monday. Construction crews, working on the Valley Football Expansion, discovered the bones just beyond the North end zone of the football field. After the discovery, large piles of dirt from the construction site were set aside for excavation.

The students examined those piles today, sifting through the dirt and learning to identify extinct animal bones. Led by experts, students sifted through the dirt, learning to identify extinct animal bones.

Researchers say, excavating the bones can help scientists learn about more than just extinct animals. Information about the environment and vegetation that used to cover the area can be learned as well.

"We can learn a lot about what the plants were like, what the climate was like by studying bones themselves or by studying things that are encased in the dirt associated with the bones," associate professor of Anthropology Loren Davis said.

Davis says the newly discovered bones are at least 10,000 years old. Radio carbon dating will determine a more precise age for the bones.

Davis anticipates hearing the results in a few months.

At this point, no human artifacts have been found, and it's unclear if any more bones remain in the construction site.

The Valley Football Center expansion is progressing as planned. Though Davis and his colleagues will remain on site, in case there are any more discoveries.


This is a developing story. Watch #LiveOnKVAL for more on this story

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