The Columbian Mammoth

Columbian Mammoth remains have been found at numerous sites all over the southern portion of the continent. The Hot Springs, South Dakota mammoth bone site is a good example of a mammoth mass death assemblage, from which we collect the data that allows us to understand the behavior and physical characteristics of the Columbian mammoth.

At the Hot Springs site, the bones of over thirty mammoths, all of the species columbi, were found between 1975 and 1979. These animals were predominantly young adults and mature animals. The Hot Springs site was initially a sinkhole formed from a large collapsed karstic feature. A small spring fed a pond some 4-5 meters deep which occupied the center of the site. Mammoths in search of water would descend the rocky slope down to the pool, but would find the angle of the slope too steep to extricate themselves. Since there was little or no standing ground within the sinkhole, the animals were either forced to stand on the steeply inclined submerged ground near the walls of the sinkole, or were forced to swim around until they drowned when they became exhausted.

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