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Archaeology & Culture

Mammoth Graveyard in South Dakota

Join Earthwatch paleontologist Dr. Larry Agenbroad in the hunt for mammoths in South Dakota.


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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Help excavate mammoths, camels, llamas, and possibly even the first wolf and giant short-faced bear fossils found in the north-central plains.

How did mammoths live and die in North America? Explore the fossil evidence and help reconstruct a fascinating prehistoric community.

One day 26,000 years ago, in an effort to find greener fodder, a teenage male Columbian mammoth fell into a sinkhole and perished in the bottom. Over the years, this tragedy was repeated until eventually the deadly pond filled in, preserving at least 100 mammoth victims. Their deaths were unmarked until 1974, when geologist Dr. Larry Agenbroad was called to investigate a tusk hit by a bulldozer. Almost four decades later, you can help Dr. Agenbroad in his continued investigation of the world’s largest deposit of Columbian mammoth remains. Working in a climate-controlled environment, you’ll help excavate mammoths, camels, llamas, and possibly even the first wolf and giant short-faced bear fossils found in the north-central plains.

Mammoth Research in South Dakota

Mammoth remains, South Dakota.

The majority of fossils found at the Mammoth Site are of the North American Columbian mammoth. Remains of three woolly mammoths have also been discovered here, making this "east meets west mammoth gathering" the first site where both species have been found together. Fossils of other Ice Age animals have also been discovered, including imprint fossils of bird feathers, complete fish skeletons, and thousands of mollusk shells. As an Earthwatch volunteer and crew member on this project, you’ll participate in the excavation, preparation, stabilization, and casting of fossils.

About the research area

South Dakota, United States, North America & Arctic

Daily life in the field

Itinerary

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The Scientists

MEET THE LEAD SCIENTIST

Larry
Agenbroad
Site Director, Mammoth Site; Emeritus Professor of Geology, Northern Arizona University

ABOUT Larry Agenbroad

Earthwatch paleontologist Dr. Larry Agenbroad works with volunteers to unearth the remains of mammoths and other ancient mammals.

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Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food

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