In order to deepen their backyard pond, the Lozier's hired an excavator. A week later, they stumbled on to what looked to be some sort of large muddy log. After examining it further, they found it was a three-foot bone. Larry began doing some research and discovered it was a possibly upper-forelimb (or humerus) bone of a mastodon (Mammut americanum). A frenzied phone call was immediately made to a paleontologist, who confirmed Larry's findings. The Loziers had no idea they had been residing over the grave of a precious, extinct creature that roamed the Earth some 14,000 years ago. Where there is one bone there may be more, so the search began in June 2000. Anxious volunteers and staff from the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) in Ithaca, N.Y., drained the Lozier's pond with tremendous excitement, but to their dismay found no additional bones. However, in late August, a second trip was made with the help of volunteers from Vassar College, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Mount Holyoke University, SUNY New Paltz and the Boston Museum of Science. Working passionately and vigorously, the volunteers managed over six weeks to extract 95 percent of the mastodon's remains from the Lozier's pond, making this find one of the top three most valuable and complete Mammut americanum specimens in the world. Not only is it one of the most complete skeletons, but the Hyde Park mastodon died only 2,000 years before the species became extinct, making it one of the last clues to our world during the Pleistocene period.
Paleontologists determined that the Hyde Park specimen is an adult male American mastodon (approx. 30-40 years old) which possibly weighed in at an astonishing 10,000 - 15,000 pounds. It is said to have roamed upstate New York around 11,500 B.C. Today, the Hyde Park mastodon has made its home at PRI's Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, N.Y.
The Hyde Park find is also one of the best clues to the environment of the late Pleistocene epoch as well. The sedimentary composition of his burial ground was ideal for preserving not only the mastodon, but flora and fauna of his time as well. From the type of plants taken from the mud, paleontologists found that New York 14,000 years ago was just on the south-edge of retreating ice age glaciers and resembled the Hudson Bay of today.
In addition to the Hyde Park mastodon discovery, evidence of over 150 mastodons has been found in New York state over the past 200 years.
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