First mammoth discovered in Snowmass gets new name

By Real Aspen
January 18, 2011
A Columbian mammoth

The results of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s “Name the Mammoth” contest are in, and voters have selected “Snowy” as the name of the first mammoth discovered at a spectacular Ice Age fossil site near Snowmass Village last fall. More than 15,000 people cast ballots online and at the Museum during the last month to decide the name.

The Columbian mammoth, a young female, was discovered on October 14, 2010, as crews were working to expand Ziegler Reservoir outside Snowmass Village. A month of excavation followed, and Museum crews discovered an entire Ice Age ecosystem including as many as 10 American mastodons, three other Columbian mammoths, two Ice Age deer, four Ice Age bison, a Jefferson’s ground sloth, a tiger salamander, insects, snails, and large quantities of plant matter. Scientists consider the find to be one of the most significant in Colorado history. The Museum has named the excavation and related activities The Snowmastodon Project™. The Museum decided to hold a contest to name the original mammoth discovery because of the overwhelming public interest in the discovery.

“Snowy,” named for Snowmass Village, beat out four other naming options, each of which had a unique association with the mammoth. The other choices were:

o Jessie—named for bulldozer operator Jesse Steele, who uncovered the first bones while working in Ziegler Reservoir on October 14

o Ella—named for the three-year-old daughter of construction superintendant, Kent Olson, who took the bones home to try to identify them and realized they’d discovered something big

o Ziggy –named for the Ziegler family, who owned the land where the reservoir was built and the Ice Age site was discovered

o Samammoth—named for Museum educator Samantha Sands, who presented mammoth programs to 8,500 schoolchildren in five days in the Roaring Fork Valley

Also today, the Museum is kicking off a coloring contest where children can imagine what Colorado looked like during the Ice Age, and draw their favorite Ice Age animal. Winners will receive a family four pack of Museum and IMAX 3D tickets. With so many different types of animals discovered near Snowmass Village, there are ample opportunities for kids to be creative with their drawings. Winners will be selected in four age categories (4 and under, ages 4–6, ages 7–9, ages 10–12). The entry form and coloring page is available at www.dmns.org/snowmastodon-project. Entries are due by February 18, 2011.

The fossils discovered at Ziegler Reservoir are currently being preserved in the Museum’s conservation lab in preparation for scientific study and are not on public display. Because the fossils were encased in wet sediments for so long, they must dry out in a very slow, controlled manner or they may crack and fall apart. Since the fossils are being preserved behind the scenes, the Museum is using its website to share new images of some of the fossils. Visit www.dmns.org/science/collections to see a 360-degree view of one of the spectacular fully cleaned mastodon teeth discovered at Ziegler Reservoir, and to learn more about how American mastodons lived during the Ice Age.


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