The National Park Service’s newest addition is Waco Mammoth National Monument! President Obama welcomed this paleontological site in Texas as a National Park Service designation on July 10, 2015, protecting with it more than 65,000 years of history preserved through fossilized Ice Age creatures.
Waco Mammoth National Monument tells the ancient natural history of the United States. It is the country’s only site housing fossils of a Columbian mammoth nursery herd. Columbian mammoths are a distant relative of the smaller wooly mammoths that inhabited the colder, more northern regions of the North American continent, whereas the Columbian mammoth roamed as far north as southern Canada and as far south as Costa Rica.
In addition to the bones of the Columbian mammoths, remains of a Western camel, a giant tortoise, and other historic species – even the tooth of a saber-toothed cat! – were uncovered, providing a glimpse in to a lost world. All of the fossils at Waco Mammoth National Monument have all been excavated in situ, meaning still in their original position within the bone bed.
These fossilized Ice Age creatures were discovered in 1978 by Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin. Barron and Bufkin were in search of arrow heads and fossils along the Bosque River when they noticed a large bone protruding from a ravine. The bone was brought to Baylor University’s Strecker Museum where it was identified as the femur of Mammuthus Columbi. Following the discovery, Strecker Museum staff and Baylor University scientists spent years at the site, excavating and preserving the many important scientific discoveries. And the rest is (prehistoric) history!
Today, Waco Mammoth National Monument protects a site of natural historic significance by preserving this paleontological wonder, providing a place for research, and creating a site for visitors to tour and learn about these remarkable fossils. By welcoming Waco Mammoth National Monument to the National Park System, we protect our past for future generations to discover and enjoy.