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      Researcher shares the latest information in the Mahaska County mammoth excavation

      Dozens of Ottumwa residents gathered at the Ottumwa Public Library for update on the ongoing Mahaska County mammoth excavation.

      You can learn about mammoths and mastodons by reading about them in a book, but some Iowans are taking a more hands-on approach.

      â??It actually surprised us the response that we got that so many people in this area and across the state and across the Midwest were interested in participating in something like this, but it was really after we put out the initial call for volunteers,â?? Sarah Horgen, University of Iowaâ??s Education and Outreach Coordinator said. â??It just kind of spread like wildfire.â??

      In 2010, a Mahaska County Farmer found a mammoth femur on his property. Horgen says the artifacts found date back to the end of the last Ice Age. She presented the findings at the Ottumwa Public Library Tuesday morning.

      â??We knew these animals died out in this part of the world 10,000 years ago, so that gave us a recent end date that mammoths lived in this part of the world going back hundreds of thousands of years ago,â?? she said.

      Since 2012, hundreds of volunteers have gotten involved in a major archaeological excavation at the site. Just because itâ??s winter doesnâ??t mean researchers are taking any time off.

      â??Winter time when we canâ??t dig is when a lot of the analysis is done during the quiet digging period so we have people studying the teeth right now,â?? Horgen said.

      By observing the teeth and other bones collected, Horgen believes there are either three or four mammothâ??s remains at the site.

      Digging will start as soon as possible. We know thereâ??s a lot more out at the site, and we have lots of people lined up that are ready to dig at the site.

      The Mahaska County Conservation Board is now coordinating the project. Digging is set to begin in the spring.

      The bones technically belong to the landowner. but he wants to keep the artifacts in Southeast Iowa to be put on display.

      The farmer is working with the MCCB on establishing a place for the exhibit.