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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mammoth skeleton Unveiled

A 14,500-year-old woolly mammoth skeleton dug up in 1994 has been unveiled at the Milwaukee Public Museum, giving locals a glimpse of perhaps the most intact specimen discovered in North America.Few paleontological specimens are as complete as the Hebior mammoth.The skeleton lacks a rib as well as a few bones in the tail and feet, but is otherwise nearly whole.

Small gouges on the bones suggest the meat was scraped off with human tools, meaning people lived in the Upper Midwest at least 1,000 years earlier than previously believed, said Carter Lupton, vice president of museum programs."The Clovis tribe had been known to be in the area 13,000 years ago," Lupton said Tuesday. "These butcher marks indicate human activity, which means there were humans in Wisconsin more than 14,000 years ago."

Anthropologist David Overstreet helped excavate the fossils from cornfields in southeastern Wisconsin. He discounts the idea that the mammoth may have become frozen in a glacier and had its meat scraped off after it thawed 1,000 years later.

Siberian mammoths have been found with their skin and hides intact, he said, but the meat underwent chemical changes that render it black and leathery -- virtually inedible."There would be no reason for people to try to eat it," he said. "I think the freezer burn would be a little bit extreme."

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