The Awesome Waco Mammoth Museum
by Guest Blogger, Kaye George
The Waco Mammoth Museum ((http://www.waco-texas.com/cms-waco-mammoth) is at the site of a remarkable discovery. In this stream bed, the fossilized bones of a mammoth herd, 19 mothers and babies, was discovered in 1978. Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin were out hunting arrowheads and had the wisdom to bring the bone they found to Baylor University. It was found to belong to a Columbian mammoth.
Columbian mammoth lived in the southern part of North America. They are relatives of the wooly mammoth that the Neanderthals in my novel, Death in the Time of Ice, hunted. The novel is set 30,000 years ago, and the Columbian mammoth didn’t range as far north as the edge of the approaching glacier at that time. 30,000 years ago. That is, the Neanderthals could have hunted these animals if they’d been on the same continent. They did hunt them in Europe and Asia. In my book, the Neanderthals have made their way to what is now North America, one of the few liberties I took that runs counter to contemporary research. I say, just because we haven’t found Neanderthal bones on this continent doesn’t
mean they might not be here!
A dig was established in Waco, Texas at the site of the mammoth bones, which is still going on. When I visited the museum a couple of years ago, this was the largest herd of related mammoths ever uncovered in one spot. They’re aptly named. To give you an idea of their size, the mural above is life-sized and I’m about 5’ 8” tall. You can visit the site and see the actual bones of these magnificent animals.
The herd may have gotten trapped in a steep-sided channel and drowned when a flood arose 68,000 years ago. A mural at the museum depicts the herd with their attending ancient camelops. It was thought that the herd let the camel hang around with them as an early warning system. Or maybe they could close ranks with their babies inside and let a predator get the camel.
excerpt from Death in the Time of Ice
Nominated for Best Historical Mystery in the 2014 Agatha Awards
Here’s a part of what happened on a disastrous hunt early in the book. Enga Dancing Flower knows her Neanderthal tribe is in trouble. The dark seasons are becoming longer and the mammoth herds are fleeing south. When the tribal leader is found stabbed to death, the new leader thinks Enga did it. Expulsion and certain death loom. Enga must find the murderer to save her tribe — and herself.
Kokat No Ear is not here, Enga Dancing Flower thought-spoke.
Tog Flint Shaper read her thought and her fear. He summoned several others. Help me search the tall grasses. Then Tog spied a smear of dark liquid in the grass, leading toward the trees.
He must be in the forest, thought-spoke Tog. He ran into the woods, black with nightfall now, following the even blacker trail of Red and summoning the other three males to come with him.
The females squatted next to each other and waited. The males sent no thoughts to them. Enga checked on Ung. She was sound asleep. The wound still bled, but now seeped instead of spurting. Enga felt her shoulders relax just a notch.