Ancient mammoth remains were recently found near Cody on the shoreline of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Portions of ribs, vertebrae and other bones are believed to all be part of the same extinct mammal.
A local discovered the remains while on a hike around the reservoir. Officials believe they were exposed because of an unusually low water tide. Todd Surovell, the department head of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, said decisions must be made quickly on what to do with the discovery, since it could soon be submerged with snowmelt.
“And once there's wave action once again interacting with it can cause bones to be dispersed broken and it can negatively impact the site,” he said.
Surovell said the most important next step is to see whether the remains are an archaeological or a paleontological site.
“If this mammoth is older than 14,000 years, it's really unlikely to have interacted with humans and it's simply a natural death site which would make it paleontological,” he said.
Since the remains were found on Bureau of Land Management property it's up to the Bureau of Reclamation to decide how to proceed. This is the 11th mammoth discovery site in Wyoming.
Update: April 23, 4:33pm
After the Bureau of Reclamation determined the site where the mammoth remains are located, it has been reported that the site may have been disturbed before it was reported to the bureau. Law enforcement is now looking into the possible theft and/or disturbance of the ribs, vertebrae and other bones that are believed to all be part of the same extinct mammal.
It is the law that federal agencies manage potential archaeological or a paleontological sites found on federal land. Criminal and civil penalties may be enforced for theft of the remains.