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Oregon's Research Team Finds Trails of Columbian Mammoths

Lake County, Oregon's public lands has a fossilized trackway that can potentially reveal clues about the ancient family dynamics of the Columbian mammoths. A team of researchers from the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History excavated a trackway that includes 117 footprints of juvenile as well as infant mammoths. This Ice age trackway discovered by the paleontologist of Museum of Natural and Cultural History Greg Retallack during 2014 class field trip on fossils at UO. It is the focus of the new study appearing in the Journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

When the study's co authors revisited the site along with Greg Retallack and UO Science librarian Dean Walton in 2017, they found a 20-footprint track which dated roughly to 43,000 years ago. The track exhibited some intriguing features. Retallack said that these trace fossils in the form of trackways can provide distinctive insights into the natural history. Tracks are great to decipher so much about any ancient creatures than their bones, most importantly their behaviour. It is exciting to see this kind of interaction being preserved in the fossil record. Most of the mammoths were extinct to be around 11,500 years ago but there were some isolated Arctic island populations of the woolly mammoth that existed until 4,000 years ago.

By: Neha Maheshwari


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