President Obama Declares the Waco Mammoth Site a National Monument
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
Around 65,000 years ago, Columbian mammoths roamed what would become Waco, Texas looking for food and shelter.
All these years later, President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday making the Waco Mammoth Site — a museum featuring a group of 24 fossilized adult and young mammoths — a national monument.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the site become important to the scientific community after explorers Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin discovered the first mammoth fossils in 1978 by the Bosque River near Waco.
Following Barron and Bufkin’s discoveries, Baylor University took over site excavation for the next 20 years, subsequently discovering 24 mammoths (including the only known example of a nursery herd), a saber-toothed cat, a giant tortoise, a Western camel, and an American alligator.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell released a statement about President Obama’s decision, saying, “Our National Parks inspire and teach us about our nation’s natural history — in this case, about the prehistoric animals that walked our Earth tens of thousands of years ago. The Waco Mammoth National Monument will share the wonder of these incredible mammoths with visitors from around the world and help introduce a new generation to the thrill of scientific discovery that only a special site like this can demonstrate first-hand.”
The Waco Mammoth National Monument has been operated by the city since 2009 and is situated on five acres of land donated to the museum by the government. Now that President Obama has designated the site as a national monument, the National Park Service will manage the historical landmark alongside the city of Waco and Baylor University.
Scientists do not know what killed off the animals, but their positioning during fossilization leads some to believe the death came quickly, as it killed and fossilized an entire herd almost exactly where they stood.
For more information on the Waco Mammoth National Monument, visit the museum’s official website.
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