Waco Sudden Death Mammoth (2003 archives)


Sudden Death Mammoth Painting by Joe Taylor.

In the summer of 2001, the Mt. Blanco team joined by Otis Kline and Bryce Gaudian, molded the third  of the three largest molds ever made of a fossil still in the ground. After molding the skeleton of a large female mammoth, which strangely enough never developed tusks, Joe Taylor and crew excavated the bones for Baylor University to protect them from flooding of the site.

In November of 2003, Mt. Blanco cast the big bull with a female on his tusks, and colored them exactly like the real bones. Many who have seen it cannot believe they are not actually the real bones. The cast is almost 40 feet long, ten feet wide and three feet deep and is one of the main displays in the new Waco Museum of Natural History in Waco, Texas located across from the Baylor campus.

Below is a skull from juvenile female held in bull’s tusks. The skull was buried upside down after it floated 10 feet from the body. After petrification, something crushed the bull’s skull. Perhaps a tree grew on top of it and was later pushed over by a storm. Taylor has seen trees in the area do just that.


Assistant Joel Peck (left) and Joe Taylor inches the heavy mammoth skull in its field jacket to work table for restoration.


Skull is moved onto work table (Mt Blanco Museum shop).

Stacey Latimer vacuums away the matrix being removed by the Chicago pneumatic.

(right side)  Joe and museum volunteer Stacey Latimer removing the field jacket from off of the skull.

A pencil-sized jackhammer called a Chicago pnuematic is used to remove the clay and calcium carbonate from the fragile mammoth skull. The matrix has to be carefully removed a fraction of an inch at a time, and the fractured bones hardened with PVA (Polyvinyl acetate).

After much of the original clay matrix is removed the skull is ready for molding.

Several layers of latex are applied to produce one of the molds.

Once the liquid latex has been painted on and cured and the mother molds created and removed the cured latex mold is carefully removed.

The skull is re-jacketed with permanent plaster jackets for safe transit and delivery to the Strecker Museum warehouse near the Baylor University campus. This skull was then shipped to Florida for scientific examination.


Joe and his assistants later returned to the Mammoth dig site in Waco to work on molding in situ and excavating another female mammoth skeleton.

Latex is applied  for molding the mammoth skeleton in situ.

Joe is making a thin clay wall between parts of the latex mold.

In another part of the site the remains of a large camel which was previously uncovered and molded by Taylor. Since then the skull and lower jaws were discovered nearby. Here Joe carefully cleans up the skull to prepare it for molding.

The camel’s front teeth and tusk are at the left.  Waco camel molded in situ.  Third largest mold in situ.

The camel’s front teeth and tusk are at the left.  Waco camel molded in situ.  Third largest mold in situ.

Article and photos copyright Mt. Blanco, originally published 2001.  Re-posted August 2015

*Mt. Blanco Archives: Because of the many changes since Mt. Blanco opened in 1998, we are re-posting many of the old updates, articles, etc. that were originally on our website.  Some of the information may be out of date, but each of our archived articles are an important part of Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum’s history.

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