A horse is the latest species unearthed at Snowmass dig
June 14, 2011
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Add a horse to the list of Ice Age animals that once wandered the earth near Snowmass Village.The crew working at the Ziegler Reservoir dig site near Snowmass recovered the ankle bone from a species of horse that disappeared from North America about 12,000 years ago, according to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.The bone is one of more than 2,300 fossils that have been uncovered this spring. It was found at the bottom of the sediment at the reservoir, at one time an ancient lake, making it one of the oldest fossils found there. Horses were common in North America during the Ice Age before they disappeared, according to the museum.Over the past few days, the excavation crew has also found a number of bones and claws from the Jefferson’s ground sloth. On Monday, the complete skull of a sloth was uncovered. Measuring more than a foot in length, it’s the first complete sloth skull found at the reservoir.Local volunteer Chris Faison, a teacher at Aspen Community School, made the discovery.The Ice Age ground sloth was about the size of a grizzly bear, according to the museum.Less than three weeks remain in the seven-week dig at the reservoir, and the excavation team has reached the bottom layer of the former lake bed, the museum reported Tuesday.The reservoir has produced numerous fossils from mastodons, mammoths and other animals since the first mammoth bones were uncovered during excavation work last fall. The fossil search is scheduled to wrap up July 1, allowing construction of a dam to proceed at the site.