Monday, June 6, 2016

Lamb Springs--Where the Mammoths Roamed


On a cool and misty morning my husband and I and a few other members of our community's historical society visited a fascinating area in the outskirts of Littleton, Colorado, called Lamb Springs Archaeological Preserve. Here, in 1960, the land's owner and rancher, Charles Lamb, was digging a stock pond at the the site of a natural spring. He found several large bones that were identified by geologists with the US Geological Survey, as the remains of mammoth, horse, camel and bison. (All photos in this post will enlarge if clicked on)


Dr Waldo Wedel--a Smithsonian Institution archaeologist--and Dr. Glenn Scott--of the US Geological Survey--then excavated the site in 1961 and 1962. 


They found the bones of at least five mammoths, one of which was radiocarbon dated as slightly older than 13,000 years old! This meant the animals might have visited this spring at the end of the last Ice Age. 


After the Columbian Mammoths and other Ice Age animals had become extinct, people hunted and killed bison at the spring between 8,500 and 9,000 years ago. These people used stone tools associated with what archaeologists call the Cody Complex.


In 1980 and 1981, Dr. Dennis Stanford--a Smithsonian Institution archaeologist--also excavated the site and found evidence suggesting that people may have hunted the Ice Age mammoths, which would mean humans existed in the North American Continent long before what scientists believed! He also found the evidence of over 30 mammoths that died near the spring.


It is thought that this site was a major hunting ground.


Jack Warner, of the Colorado Archaeological Society, was our guide during our visit to the site, and he gave a very interesting talk about the history and scientific studies done at Lamb Springs. He showed us photos of reproductions of the types of tools and weapons used by the Paleo Indians--from the Clovis period circa 13,000-12,000 BP, to the Anasazi people, AD 750 to 1300.


It was interesting to learn from Mr. Warner that this natural spring site, that existed for thousands of years, went totally dry in the 1970's.



He also told us that the bottom of the spring when it existed was sandy, and microbe free, which allowed the bones within to be so well preserved.


The excavation of a juvenile Columbian Mammoth skull took place in July 2002, under the supervision of Drs. Dixon and Murphy and students and volunteers from the Museum Studies Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The skull was on display in the Denver Museum of Nature of Science from July 2002-3 and is currently in storage until an interpretive exhibition center can be built on the Lamb Spring site.


A model of the mammoth skull placed in the vicinity where it was found, is shown on the Lamb Springs site in a small house kiosk.


The 32 acres around Lamb Spring site was purchased by The Archeological Conservancy in 1995 with the assistance of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Douglas County, Colorado and the Smithsonian Institution.


Plans and fundraising is going on for a future museum and educational center to be built on the site. This will allow visitors to learn more about the discoveries made here and also to allow scientists to do more excavations and studies related to the ancient bones on the site. Presently public tours are held each year, May through October. Registration is required through the Lamb Springs web site and are limited to 30 people. 

The Front Range area of Colorado is undergoing great population growth, and much of the privately held land in this location will soon be the site of a major housing developments.  It is fortunate that The Archaeological Conservancy had the foresight to purchase this land and preserve it for the future. There is an interesting article, on this link, about other discoveries recently made beneath the ground in Douglas County, Colorado. Dinosaurs, mammoths, petrified palm trees---it has made me think what secrets could be beneath my feet where I live? What discoveries are yet to be found where you live? Learning about the past may help us learn how to face the challenges of the future.


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28 comments:

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This looks like an amazing place to visit!! I used to want to be a paleontologist when I was a little boy :) I would have been in heaven here!

Jeanne said...

Good morning Pat, We are getting on the road in a few minutes which will get us home tomorrow around 5:00pm. We have had a wonderful trip but home is where the heart is. Smile!

Your post today is a subject I never can know enough about. Your photos and text are so interesting. It is hard to imagine the thousands of years that this planet has been occupied with humans. Not to mention the prehistoric animals. What an amazing trip you had.

Happy Blue Monday.
xo,
Jeanne

Pondside said...

Mammoths are very much on my mind as there is a new exhibit at the Royal British Columbia Museum featuring a fully preserved baby mammoth from Russia. I am looking forward to taking our grandsons!

LV said...

I may have made mention before, my son and his wife lived in Littleton a few years. I am sure they never knew about this. Will have to tell her to read your post today.

Linda W. said...

How interesting! Yes, it is good that this land has been preserved.

Lady Fi said...

How fascinating - and such lovely landscape.

Sherrie said...

Hi,
Awesome info, thanks for sharing.
Have a great day!

jeannettestgermain said...

So interesting - so were it the Paleo Indians who hunted the mammoths? Seeing the largeness of the bones compared to the man is incredible! Thank you much for sharing these significant finds with SEASONS! Much appreciated! Have a happy week, Pat!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

That really is amazing and how wonderful to spend time there and learn more about it. Two of my 'kids' are visiting CO this week and having a great time! Hugs!

Donna said...

I love archeology and history...I will add this to my list of must see spots....to think petrified palm trees...just fascinating!

Michelle said...

This is fascinating subject matter to me. Yet another place I need to visit in Colorado!

The Furry Gnome said...

Always find these archeological stories. You can learn such fascinating stuff.

Rhonda Albom said...

Very interesting story about the mammoths and human hunting of them.

Patrick weseman said...

Very cool. I really need to go there.

NC Sue said...

That's cool!
Thanks for sharing at the weekly photo linky - please invite your friends:
http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/06/circa-1953-and-now.html

Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines said...

This fascinates me- I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing.

handmade by amalia said...

A pretty and interesting place to visit. Thanks for sharing the history, I enjoyed it.
Amalia
xo

Daniela said...

What an unusual, amazing countryside for your Colorado, and what an interesting place to visit, my sweetest Pat, thank you for sharing all this with us !

Hope your week is off to a good start I wish you most wonderful days to come, dearie, sending hugs and more hugs to you

Xx Dany

happywonderer.com said...

How very interesting to go along with the historical society. A great educational post, Pat!

Ida said...

Fascinating place. It just amazes me that these creatures existed and we have evidence to prove it.

Blogoratti said...

Really interesting and marvelous history lesson, thanks for sharing and warm greetings!

Anne's Attic - Design said...

Thank you for sharing at SYC! Jo

Rambling Woods said...

I love this post as it is right up my interest alley... Michelle

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Pat, this is fascinating! The earth holds many secrets. Thank goodness for the foresight of these archaeologists and scientists. We are such a small part of our planet's story. I enjoyed this post so much! I look forward to hearing more about it in the future. ♥

Jann Olson said...

Hubby and I stayed in Breckenridge last spring. We went to Littleton. Did not know about this. Next time I guess! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Florence said...

What an interesting place!

Lisa Kerner said...

We have a Mammoth Sight in the southern hills. I am always taken back by how large they were, and to think humans hunted them.

My hubby and I were shocked at how much the Denver area has grown. A friend who lives in the Golden are told us that 500 people a day, maybe month, are moving to the area. Wowza. Good thing that land was purchased a while ago.

Thanks for linking, this was an interesting read.

Lisa @ LTTL

Susan Anderson said...

Pretty fascinating stuff! Thanks for sharing, and you really did a thorough job. Almost feels like I got to be there myself.

=)