The Mammoth Site
Hot Springs, SD
Limited to 20 participants
Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. Prices and dates dates subject to change. All Terms + Conditions Apply.
About The Mammoth Site
The Mammoth Site is an extraordinary paleontology dig location which has been yielding Pleistocene fossils since the early 1970s. The site is a prehistoric sinkhole that was fed by artesian-fed spring waters which attracted wildlife. It is believed that the steep sides of the sinkhole prevented wildlife from climbing out of the water, most likely resulting in death from starvation or exhaustion. Both Woolly and Columbian Mammoths have been found, along with camels, llamas, short-faced bear, wolves, coyotes, birds, minks, ferrets, prairie dogs and voles. Invertebrates like clams, snails and slugs have also been excavated.
Fossils found: Mammoths, Giant Short-Faced Bear, Camel, Llama and many other species
All the digs featured on Ancient Odysseys are non-profits and rely upon visitors and donations to continue their important scientific work. Please consider donating if you would like to support this organization's mission. All donations are tax deductible.
What to Expect on the Mammoth Site Ice Age Explorers Paleontology Dig
Over the course of four weeks each year, the Ice Age Explorers Program at The Mammoth Site offers 8 participants per week the opportunity to be a part of active excavations. Dig weeks are Monday to Friday, with lunch provided. Weekends are on your own. During each week, participants will excavate in the Bonebed, screenwash excavated sediments, contribute to Bonebed mapping and work in the research lab on a variety of projects including sorting and prepping bones, 3D Scanning and 3D Printing work in the molding and casting laboratory.
The first few days of excavation will be devoted to proper excavation training techniques, how to use of tools and how to move safely through the Bonebed. Participants will then be assigned to a variety of tasks including the excavation of new areas, flattening pathways, detailing bones or preparing bones for removal. Although the site is very rich in fossils, there is never a guarantee that each participant will find a fossil on their own. This is simply the nature of paleontology. However, each participant’s work will contribute to the ongoing research and preservation work of The Mammoth Site.
What to Bring for the Mammoth Site Ice Age Explorers Paleontology Dig
The Mammoth Site is fully covered with air conditioning; however, temperatures can still vary in the summertime. Long pants are always a good idea for working in the field and baseball cap is handy to keep the dust out. Closed, comfortable shoes or boots are also suggested. All tools and training are provided.
If you are in need of accommodations, The Mammoth Site will make arrangements at a cost of an additional $600.00 per week. Dinner is also available for an additional $150.00 per week.
An interview with Dr. Chris Jass | Paleontologist | The Mammoth Site
What makes The Mammoth Site significant?
The Mammoth Site is significant for a number of reasons. The large concentration of mammoths in our in situ bond-bed represents a unique find that permits us to explore questions regarding morphological change, taphonomy, and behavior in mammoths. Beyond that, The Mammoth Site has evolved into an in situ museum with a broadening regional research focus on Ice Age faunas of western North America. With projects around the Black Hills and elsewhere in western North America, our on-going research helps to contextualize the Ice Age world of mammoths. Lastly, the site is important because it represents a “living” museum exhibit where visitors are directly exposed to the on-going work at the site, including both scientific research and museum studies (e.g., conservation). The site offers not only a window into the past, but also a window into how we study and preservation that past.
What has been most surprising about your discoveries at this location?
Frankly, it’s hard to top finding 60+ mammoths and I’ll always be a little jealous of the folks who were here when the site was discovered. I’ve spent my career working on Ice Age faunas, and finding that concentration of mammoths in one spot is continually awe-inspiring to me.
What are your current research objectives at your site?
My current objectives really stand on the shoulders of the researchers who came before me. They set a stage where I think we can see The Mammoth Site grow in different ways, and my immediate predecessor rekindled opportunities for re-examining what we thought we knew about the site itself. Over the next little while we’ll be working to re-examine some of the mammoth material recovered from the site, excavating to test newly formulated hypotheses about formation of the site, and using a revised chronology as a starting point to develop new questions about regional biological change in the Black Hills.
What was most important or rewarding find at this site?
I think it’s incredibly rewarding to know that even after almost 50 years The Mammoth Site still has much to tell us about the Ice Age.