This skull is over 15% larger than the Burning Tree Mastodon. The Burning Tree Mastodon has been considered a large male mastodon….up till now. We set the Burning Tree Mastodon skull next to Big Tex (as we have dubbed him) and we were shocked! I have lived with the Burning Tree Mastodon skull for the last 14 years and have always thought it was a big skull. But it was not till we set them side by side that I saw the difference. Check back for photos of Big Tex.
From San Antonio, Texas USA
Very impressive, it is huge
Lower jaws virtually complete
Both tusks still in lower jaws
Joe Taylor and his staff have been working on this amazing piece for over a year. “I have spent nearly six months on it myself, Taylor said.” What’s taking so long? “The skull is huge, as far as we know the largest found yet. It is certainly the largest from Texas and the only one that has even been available.”
When Taylor recovered it from a workshop floor in San Antonio, it was resting upside down on its face and was so heavy that it was flattening the huge truck tire under it. “Just getting it into my truck to bring it home was heart-stopping. Then the whole trip back to the museum was during a snowstorm. It took me a long time just to figure out how to turn the beast’s skull over to an upright position so we could see the face and work on it. A huge contraption was attached to it and it rolled over without even a chip.”
Removing the matrix from it has taken a year. Some areas of the calcium cemented sand and gravel were as hard as granite. In many places, using a pencil-sized jackhammer called a Chicago pneumatic, it would take all day to remove an area the size of an orange. The bone is mostly replaced but it is softer than the rock around it making the work all the more tedious.
In order to mount the skull and jaws they first had to be molded. This had to be done in place and restoration of parts underneath had to be done working on it upside down. The jaws alone are so heavy that it takes two men to lift one side. The metal work for the base and jaws was done using a cast of them.
“You only get one chance when moving this thing, said Taylor, so every possible problem has to be fully solved beforehand.” When finished, he estimates the skull and jaws will weigh as much as 700 lbs. Huge mammoth skulls from Alaska only weigh a few hundred pounds.
“We finally got the tusks set on it this week (May-24-05). That was no easy job. And when we turn it right side up again on its permanent base, they may have to be adjusted. This will take several more days to do, but there is no other way Taylor explained.”
Joe spent five months in 1995 restoring and molding the famous Burning Tree Mastodon from Ohio and has just finished the big Wapple Bope mastodon dig in Indiana.
“This big 4-tusker is different in many respects from the Burning Tree. I think there’s a possibility that they were separate species, Taylor speculates.”
Restored by Joe Taylor with unique features
Buyers please call Joe Taylor (806)675-7777
Other animals with it also available
Article and photos copyright Mt. Blanco, originally published 2005. 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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