Species count up to 7 in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Species count up to 7 in Snowmass

Aspen Times staff reportAspen, CO Colorado

Rick Wicker Denver Museum of Science & Nature

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Some of the excavation crew at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village spent Tuesday focused on removing a 7-foot mastodon tusk as winter bore down on the proceedings.The species count at the dig site, by the way, now numbers seven, including bones from two Columbian mammoths, two Ice Age bison, one Jefferson’s ground sloth, five American mastodon, one small reptile that has yet to be further identified, one small, mouse-like mammal and one Ice Age deer.Scientists have also found indirect evidence of beavers, in the form of distinctly chewed wood. Snails and insects have also been recovered from peat at the site, along with plant matter.Three inches of snow greeted the Denver Museum of Nature & Science crew Tuesday morning and more fell during the day, according to the museum’s latest e-mail update on the excavation progress.The mastodon tusk that was the focus Tuesday was uncovered Monday by a bulldozer removing sediment while volunteers watch to see what might turn up. On Tuesday, the crew prepared the tusk for “jacketing” in plaster and burlap. The mammoth and mastodon tusks found at the site are especially fragile, according to the museum. The jackets protect them as they are removed from the ground and transported to the museum in Denver. They also help prevent the tusks from drying out too fast and shattering into pieces that can’t be reassembled, the museum said.Also on Tuesday, paleoecologists from the U.S. Geological Survey visited the dig site to help scientists gain a better understanding of the “stratigraphy” of the sediments. Their expertise may help explain how the ancient lake filled with sediment, and how long that process took, the museum said.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science educators are hosting a free day of family fun, “Ice Age-style,” on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., in the Capitol Peak meeting space in Base Village (a change from the previously announced locale).Featured will be some of the actual bones recently unearthed in Snowmass Village before they are taken to Denver for preservation. Attendees can touch mammoth and mastodon teeth from the museum’s education collections. The event will also allow a visit to the dig site via a live feed (weather permitting). Kids can see how they measure up to the giant beasts, and participate in Ice Age crafts, games, and puzzles.Walk, take the shuttle or, if you must drive, park on Level 2 in the Base Village parking garage and ride the elevator up one level. Exit the elevator and take a right to the ramp. The conference center is located next to the Treehouse.