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Scientists dig out 800-pound, 26,000-year-old mammoth skull

Posted at 12:37 AM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 00:37:35-04

HOT SPRINGS, SD (KOTA/CNN) - On Tuesday morning, 26,000 years of history came out of the ground. That’s the age of a mammoth skull that was finally excavated after being discovered in the early 1990s.

“Basically, we’re walking across and going, ‘Oh, that looks like a skull. We better dig around that and see what it is.’ So it’s been a long time coming,’” said Jim Mead, the chief scientist at the Mammoth Site.

The crew of Mammoth Site has been digging around it for the last two years and has spent the past few months preparing to lift the 800-pound skull out of the ground.

The crew can gather a lot of information from the bone remains and learn more about the four-legged friends that walked the earth before humans, said bone bed curator Justin Wilkins.

“We can start telling about where that animal has been and where it’s coming from,” Wilkins said.

The process of fully cleaning the skull is painstakingly slow. Preparators can only use hand tools and remove dirt little by little.  

“To completely prepare the skull that we just took out will probably take several years,” said Monica Bugbee, a preparator on the project. “It’s a very large specimen, so it takes a long time and a lot of work from a lot of people to make it happen.”

It may be a while before the skull is ready for viewing, but people who visit the site can watch the cleaning take place for the next few months.

Copyright 2017 KOTA via CNN. All rights reserved.