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This week, excavators unearthed human remains at an active archeological site outside of Aspen.
The bones are the first prehistoric human remains to be found in the area. “I’m just amazed by the fact that you can find these things in your back yard in Colorado,” said Dr. Ian Miller, the curator of paleontology and the acting curator of geology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
After mammoth bones were accidentally uncovered by a construction worker in the Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass last October, a research team from the museum began excavating the site and carbon dating the bones, which included several mastodons, and a large juvenile mammoth which are more than 10,000 years old.
The team was shut out of finishing the excavation when the snow started to fall. This week’s thaw was their first chance to access the site again since October.
The scientists found human remains: an upper mandible, the right side of a pelvic girdle, and an ankle joint fused to one of the mastadon tusks, all of which are estimated to be approximately 9,000 years old.
“It appears that they used the mammoth bones as a form of transportation,” said Stephan Sebastyan, head paleo-archeologist at the museum. “As a skier myself, I was amazed that the tusks seemed to employ some degree of rocker.”
The bones were moved to Denver for further investigation at the museum, where they’ll eventually be put on display. The mastadon tusks will be moved to the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum in Vail, Colorado.