Located in Hot Springs, South Dakota, the Mammoth Site is a paleontological dig site that is still active today. The site boasts the world's largest concentration of mammoth fossils. The current count of mammoths at the excavation site is sixty-one, including three woolly mammoths and fifty-eight Columbian mammoths. The Mammoth Site is now a one-of-a-kind National Natural Landmark that guests are welcome to come and explore. Admission to the Mammoth Site includes a thirty-minute guided tour of the dig site's sinkhole, a ten-minute film that introduces visitors to the site, and admission to the Exhibit Hall that displays full-size mammoth replicas, as well as a full-size replica of a Giant-Short Faced Bear.
Over twenty-six thousand years ago, large woolly and Columbian mammoths were trapped in spring-fed pond and died near what is known today as the southwestern edge of the town of Hot Springs. The bones of these mammoths lay buried for hundreds of years until the year of 1974, when they were discovered by luck during an excavation for a housing development after equipment moved the ground and exposed the greatest treasure of fossil in South Dakota. Fortunately, the Mammoth Site was preserved through the hard work of local residents. The site is now a research center of world-renown for Pleistocene studies, as well as the largest Columbian mammoth exhibit in the world.
The sinkhole, as well as the in-situ exhibit of mammoth remains are now protected in an enclosed, climate-controlled building, drawing visitors to the Mammoth Site throughout the year. The mammoth bones are exhibited exactly how they were when they were discovered, within the now dried up pond sediments as an "in-situ" exhibit. Walkways along the exhibit provide guests with a chance to view the fossils close-up. To this day, sixty-one mammoths have been discovered and identified at the Mammoth Sites, along with fossils of a fish, wolf, prairie dog, llama, camel, a giant short-faced bear, and several other invertebrate and plant fossils.
After a guided tour lasting around thirty minutes, visitors are welcome to walk along the pathways around the dig site at their own pace. Afterwards, they explore the site's numerous exhibits located in the Ice Age Exhibit Hall, as well as catch a glimpse of a functioning paleontology lab through its windows. Guests can also watch a number of short films on the history of the Mammoth Site, geology, early North America and the animals and people that lived during the Ice Ages, laboratory procedures of the museum, and Hunting Mammoths. While visitors can just stop in for the tour, it's recommended that they allow for at least one or two hours for their visit.
The majority of the Mammoth Site's fossil are remains of North American Columbian mammoths. Evidence of a few woolly mammoths were also identified at the site. This is the first site where both of these mammoth species have been found. Fossils of other animals during the Ice Age have also been found. Entire fish skeletons, imprint bird feather fossils, and many mollusk shells were also recovered from the twenty-six thousand-year-old now dry sinkhole.
1800 US 18 Bypass, Hot Springs, South Dakota, Phone: 605-745-6017
More: Things to Do in Frankfurt, Things to Do in Bora Bora, Things to Do in Saint Tropez, Things to Do in Morocco, St Thomas honeymoon, Things to Do in Bangkok, Things to Do in the Netherlands, Things to Do in Ensenada, Things to Do in Mexico, Things to Do in Tokyo, Things to Do in Stockholm, Things to Do in the UK, Seychelles, Things to Do in Bali, Things to Do in the Riviera Maya, Greece, Ottawa, Saint Lucia, Edmonton, Madrid, Lima, Scandinavia