Dickens Mammoth Dig Devastated by Earthquake (2005 Archive)

The Dickens Mammoth Dig Devastated by Earthquake
What appeared to be a complete mammoth skull upside down with tusks in the sockets, turned out to be a complete surprise. The Red Mud fault runs from Spur, Texas south of here to Amarillo, Texas and apparently went right through this mammoth. To out dismay, the bones of this huge bull were mangled and shattered. The one tusk we recovered was bent and torn into three pieces and left along the side of the skull…what was left of it that is.
June 20 to 24th the Mt. Blanco team excavated what was left of a large bull mammoth in the J2 Canyon south of Dickens, Texas. It was found several years ago by Mr. Charlie Gibson on the Mitchell Baldwin ranch, when Charlie and an Indian friend were building a fence. If you could see how rough this canyon is, you would be amazed that anyone could build a fence across it! The draws are steep and dangerous. It is quite a task just to search the layers of gravel for other fossils.
Stan Lutz of Washington state excavated what was left of the back of the skull which consisted of parts of its occipital condyles that join the atlas first vertebra. He did find several root tips of the teeth of the lower jaw.
The two upper molars were badly eroded, but still in the sockets. But that is all. I have seen mammoth skulls from Alaska that are still just bone that have been shattered leaving nothing but the teeth in the sockets and nothing of the rest of the skull.
We removed a heavy jacket from the front of the skull which contained jumbled fragments of bone. We won’t know what the bone is till we open it in the lab.
Of real interest were the small clam shells about 3/8 of an inch long. There were also small land snails the same size and a turitella about 1 half inch. These were throughout the layers containing the bones. Also found with it were large fresh water clams up to two inches long. I have found these with other mammoths in this area of West Texas. Many of them are closed, indicating sudden death.
New bones found. Mt. Blanco’s main digging partner, veteran fossil lover Don Yaeger’s grandson Nate Horne found a perfect foot bone of a giant bison about 20 feet east of the mammoth.
When I came to see this site earlier this year, I found a partial sacrum of a giant bison, probably an antiquus. Nate’s bone was of a different color, so it may have been a different animal. I also found the tooth of a camel right next to the skull, but no other camel bones turned up.
Salt dome collapses. In the local cafe in Dickens, a local man, Mr. Gordan Latham, told us of a large mammoth they found on the south edge of town in the 60s and that he had experienced earthquakes locally, but attributed some of them to large salt domes collapsing under the area.
The main piece of tusk was about 6 feet long and probably upwards of 12 to 14 feet before it was shattered. We plastered it out and returned the next day to plaster the other side and add wood stabilizers and let it dry out.  This week, June 28th. 05, we’ll go to haul it up the steep sandy 20 foot embankment.

Regardless of the lack of valuable bones, all digs reveal the secrets of the earth and its fascinating history. Stay tuned for more.

Pictures from the Dig:

Article and photos copyright Mt. Blanco, originally published 2005.  Re-posted 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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