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Dig For Ancient Mastodon Bones Begins In Michigan's Thumb This Weekend

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) -- A massive dig for an ancient mastodon skeleton is set to get underway in Michigan's Thumb area this weekend.

University of Michigan paleontologists will lead the dig, just north of Mayville, Michigan. It is believed that the remains are between 11,000 and 13,000 years old.

Lynn Seeloff is with the Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning, the site where the bones were discovered over two years ago.

"We are working with 10 local teachers from the Tuscola Intermediate School District, so we've partnered with them so they can share this experience with their students in the classroom," Seeloff said.

The selected teachers will help dig for mastodon bones, wash them, map the excavation site and conduct related activities that "may involve getting wet or muddy, hot or cold, tired, sore, and excited about Michigan's Ice Age history," according to the application form sent to schools this month.

"So far -- just in the past two years, just because of erosion -- there's probably been I think between 30 and 40 bones that have been recovered, so we're not exactly sure how many there are," Seeloff said.

After they are recovered, the bones will be donated to the U-M paleontology museum for further study. Roughly 300 mastodons and 30 mammoths — both extinct relatives of the elephant — have been found in Michigan over the decades.

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