Michigan Teachers to Help U Michigan Profs Dig Mastodon Bones

Teachers from elementary, middle and high schools in Tuscola County, MI will join students and professors from the University of Michigan (U-M) on a dig to excavate the bones of an 11,000- to 13,000-year-old mastodon.

The bones are located on the 202-acre property of the Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning, a facility in Mayville, MI that provides year-round camping experiences for people with developmental disabilities and special needs. The bones were discovered two years ago when a teacher from the center was leading a nature walk. Staff members from the center notified U-M paleontologists, who identified the bones as belonging to a mastodon, an extinct relative of the elephant.

The Fowler Center and U-M began planning a joint excavation project, so teachers from the area could participate and share their experience with their students. The organizers sent application forms to area schools in September. Daniel Fisher, the U-M paleontologist who will lead the excavation, and Kyle Middleton, executive director of the Fowler Center, "will select 10 teachers and several alternates for the dig, which is scheduled for the weekends of Oct. 8-9 and 15-16," according to a news release from U-M.

"The idea is that the teachers will use this experience to enrich their teaching and to share the excitement of discovery with their students," said Middleton in a prepared statement.

U-M undergraduate and graduate students and staff members from the university's Museum of Paleontology and Museum of Natural History will join the teachers and professors on the dig. Together they will "dig for mastodon bones, wash them, map the excavation site and conduct related activities," according to a news release. The excavated bones will be donated to the U-M Museum of Paleontology for further study.

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Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].