Washington: In a surprising find, a farmer has stumbled upon the partial skeleton of a woolly mammoth, which may have lived about 12-13,000 years ago, in a field in Michigan.
The remains of the adult male, probably in its 40s when it died, was discovered by farmer James Bristle who was digging in a wheat field in Washtenaw County's Lima Township with a friend to install a drainage pipe.
"It was probably a rib bone that came up. We thought it was a bent fence post. It was covered in mud," Bristle told the Ann Arbor News.
Experts from the University of Michigan were able to retrieve about a fifth of the animal's bones during an excavation, including the skull and two tusks, numerous vertebrae and ribs, the pelvis and both shoulder blades.
Daniel Fisher, a professor at the University of Michigan and director and curator at the university's Museum of Paleontology, told CBS Detroit that he knew exactly what it was when he saw the bones.
"I saw a part of a shoulder blade and there is a certain curve on a certain part of it that goes one way if it's a mastodon and another way if it's a mammoth and I recognized that and said 'humm, I think we have a mammoth here,'" Fisher said.
Fisher said there are only 10 similar sites in Michigan where a significant portion of a woolly mammoth skeleton was found. He said this one was likely 40 years old when it probably was killed by humans.
"It turns out we are dealing with carcass parts of animals, in some cases hunted, in other cases maybe not, but in any event, butchered by ancient humans, what we call Paleo-Indians; people who lived in North America about 12-13,000 years ago," he said.