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Scientists Begin Studying Fossil Bones at Denver Museum

Scientists have wrapped up most of their excavations of rare, ice-age fossils at a reservoir near Snowmass Village, and most of the fossils have been transported to the Denver Museum of Nature and Sciencewhere they’ll be studied for the next several years.

In total, more than 4,800 fossils were unearthed from the Ziegler Reservoir, including a giant American Mastodon, Columbian mammoth and other rare finds that offer a window into what life was like more than 40,000 years ago in the Colorado mountains. 

"That’s a big fossil there, that’s all I’m saying," says dig leader Dr. Kirk Johnson, as he points at parts of a five ton mastodon still wrapped in protective plaster on display at the museum.

He says in the months ahead, scientists and volunteers will study these fossils, and he hopes part of their discoveries will contribute to the discussion about human-caused global warming.

"When you talk about global warming, people often talk about ‘what about natural cycles,’" Johnson says. "And what we have at Snowmass is a beautifully preserved sequence of ancient climates which will tell us the natural cycles in Colorado, before humans got here."

The public will get a glimpse of some of these fossils at an event at the museum scheduled for July 22-23.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.