Mammoth Tibia Excavation

Billi Jo and Doc Rock (Jerry Simmons)

Hello everyone, I’ll start this off by introducing myself. I am 27 years old living “in the middle of nowhere” Pratt county, Kansas. I have been married almost 10 years to my wonderful husband Taylor! You will find him featured right there with me in most of my adventures. I love Jesus! I enjoy rocks, fossils, history, science, travel and am always ready for a new adventure. I often spend time volunteering at the Heart of America Science Resource center, ran by Jerry (Doc. Rock) and Linda Simmons. I hope to use this blog to share some of my favorite adventures with all of you!

On December 19, 2021 Taylor and I joined Jerry for a day of looking for “pretty rocks” or even some petrified wood on a private location in Kiowa county Kansas. Things started as usual, finding a few worthy specimens here and there when Jerry called us over believing he may have found something exciting. Sure enough it looked like the end of a large bone poking out of the wall of dirt! Many mammoth bones have been found in this location and by the size of this one we were betting it had to be mammoth as well!

We spent the next few hours carefully working away the sand and clay with screw drivers and small shovels. It was a chilly day and I wasn’t dressed for an excavation but I wasn’t about to let that stop me! We were all smiles despite the cold! Once we had the whole bone uncovered we noticed a break right in the middle, very common with large bones as the weight of the fossilized ends can put stress on the middle. This proved to be a blessing in disguise though because now we could see the incredibly preserved bone marrow inside! This will allow for easy recovery of samples for testing in the future.

The bone was then wrapped up with whatever we could find in the truck and was transported back to Heart of America. After a session of cleaning and examining the bone Jerry determined it to be a 26 inch long mammoth tibia! We never dreamed we would be blessed with such a find that day! We followed up by applying Polyvinylacetate dissolved in acetone to the bone, this helps to preserve bones. We have left the tibia split in two for the display so that everyone can see the bone marrow. My husband jokingly stated that the whole experience was “a real shin dig”!

On display at Heart of America

If you would like to see the tibia and our many other treasures for yourself please visit us at 312 E Hwy 54 in Haviland, Kansas. We are open Saturdays 11AM-3PM and Sundays 1PM-5PM through Labor Day weekend. We are available during the week by appointment. Please call (620)518-3167 to schedule.

Stay tuned for the next adventure!!

~Billi Jo Reed

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