A crew in Indiana installing a sewer line discovered mastodon bones that could date back as far as 20,000 years ago

WDRBBones!
  • A construction crew in Indiana was digging in the ground for a sewer project.
  • They found mysterious bones in the earth.
  • Turns out, they were mastodon bones.
  • Mastodons went extinct thousands of years ago.
  • The bones will be donated to the Indiana State Museum.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

At first, they didn’t know what it was. But then it became clear they had stumbled upon something – for lack of a better word – big.

Last week, a construction crew in Seymour, Indiana, was digging in the ground for a sewer project when they found the bones.

Tony Nehrt, whose family owns the farm where the construction was happening, was sceptical of the size of the findings at first, WDRB reported.

“He just told me that they found some bones where they were doing the dig,” he said. No big deal.

So he let his brother-in-law, Joe Schepman, know.

“I think Tony and I both thought that, well, it’s a chicken bone or a cow bone or something like that,” said Schepman.

But when Schepman got to the farm and saw the bones with his own eyes, he realised they had misjudged the situation, per WDRB.

“When I got there to the site and saw them, I thought, yeah, this is something very old and very large,” he said.

And even that feels like an understatement.


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Ron Richards, a senior research curator of paleobiology at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, believes that the bones belong to a mastodon from the Ice Age. He thinks the animal, which is comparable to a modern-day elephant, could be anywhere from 13,000 to 20,000 years old.

“I kind of sensed by the tusk it was a big male,” Richards told WDRB.

According to the Seymour Tribune, most of the tusk, jawbone, one vertebra, two leg bones, and part of the skull were found on the farm. The bones are believed to have belonged to a 40-year-old mastodon.

“The weight of them is unbelievable,” Schepman told the newspaper of the bones. “When the tusks were on the animal, they were about 9 feet long if you can imagine that.”

And he believes there could be more.

“I’m thinking that to find this many bones in one spot, that there might possibly more of this mastodon there,” he told WDRB.

Up next, the discoveries will be radiocarbon dated to determine their age. After all the testing is complete, WDRB reports, the family plans to donate the bones to the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.

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