The Mammoth Site to excavate Ice Age bison at Minnesota bog
HOT SPRINGS, S.D. – An ancestor of one of South Dakota’s iconic animals will soon be added to a local Ice Age museum.
On Wednesday, The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs announced plans to excavate Ice Age bison fossils at the Snake River Fossil Site in Minnesota.
Paleontologists will set up four test pits within a peat bog on the Snake River Bison Farm from May 5 to May 11. During that time, crews will conduct studies on the land and attempt to dig for Bison antiquus fossils within a layer of earth dating back to the late Ice Age – over 10,000 years ago.
Researchers will also invite area schools to watch as they work at the dig site.
Initial digs conducted by The Mammoth Site on the farm’s pastures turned up various fossils. The remains and informational panels on the fossil site have been added to the Ice Age Exhibit Hall as new features.
While bison bones have not been found in the Mammoth Site’s bone-bed, the beasts and their evolved descendants were and are major contributors to the Midwest ecosystem.
To that end, according to Mammoth Site Research Director Jim Meade, scientists hope to extrapolate acquired data to South Dakota’s plains to get a glimpse at what life was like millennia ago.
“It hasn’t always been a prairie out here. ‘When did that change from the Ice Age spruce forest and open grassland to the prairie we see today?'” Meade posed. “The only way we can do that is to go out and excavate.”
South Dakota Community Foundation also presented a $20,000 ADA Accessibility Grant to the museum that same Wednesday.
The grant funds will help pay for the installation of an elevator at the site to increase accessibility along tour routes.