Hickenlooper lauds fossil site’s significance

A scientist and a governor this morning hailed the importance of a Snowmass Village Ice Age fossil site that has produced thousands of bones.

“I think the science boundary that was pushed here is significant; it’s incredible,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said at a Snowmass Village press conference following the just-concluded excavation project by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Paleontologist Kirk Johnson, the excavation leader for the museum, said the site is particularly important for its proliferation of mastodon bones. Parts of at least 30 mastodons have been found.

“Without question this is the finest mastodon site in the world now,” he said.

The fossils have been unearthed at Ziegler Reservoir, which is just outside the village and is being expanded due to municipal water needs there. The first bone was discovered Oct. 14 by a construction worker. Some 600 more were found last fall, and nearly 4,300 more were removed in a 51-day push this spring by museum staff, other scientists, volunteers and others.

Work now will resume on the reservoir project, but Johnson said the reservoir water will help protect remaining fossils from oxygen and preserve them for possible further excavation in the future.

The bones of 26 vertebrates have been found at the site. Among them are seven large mammals, which besides the mastodon include the giant bison, ground sloth, Columbian mammoth, deer, horse and camel.


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