On Saturdays in the fall, the Oregon State University Beavers charge up and down the field inside the college’s Reser Stadium, and a new excavation project has revealed many kinds of hairy beasts used to roam the exact same spot.
Excavations at Reser Stadium are currently being performed as part of an expansion of the Valley Football Center, and the digging has turned up large femur bone, which OSU experts said was probably from a wooly mammoth. Additional digging turned up bones from several more mammals.
“There are quite a few bones, and dozens of pieces,” Loren Davis, an associate professor of anthropology at OSU, said in a statement. “Some of the bones are not in very good shape, but some are actually quite well preserved.”
Not just mammoths!
The bones, thought to be from mammoth, bison, and some type of equine species, were uncovered in a 10-foot deep plot of land in a place that may have been a bog or marsh at one point in time.
“Animals who were sick would often go to a body of water and die there, so it’s not unusual to find a group of bones like this,” Davis said. “We had all of these types of animals in the Willamette Valley back then.”
The animals do not seem to have been killed and there is no sign humans were the cause of death, Davis said. Since the site does not seem to involve humans or human artifacts, the bones are not regarded as part of an archaeological location. Even so, we can learn a great deal on what the environs of the Willamette Valley were like from this discovery, Davis said.
For now, Davis said he plans to soak the found bones in water to stop further deterioration and send some out for carbon dating to ascertain more around their age. He and his students will also carry on excavating a large pile of dirt drawn from the location, where more bones are thought to be buried.
“It’ll be a great learning experience for them, to learn how to identify extinct animal bones,” Davis said. “It’s really an amazing find.”