Columbian mammoths roamed Oregon for thousands of years, as evidenced by a footprint made in Oregon’s Fossil Lake 43,000 years ago.
Then something – scientists suggest a combination of climate change and human predation – drove the massive Ice Age mammals to extinction about 13,000 years ago.
“The Columbian mammoth is an iconic monument to Oregon’s dynamic environment and natural history,” said Jon Erlandson, executive director of the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. “Its fossils, common in late Pleistocene sediments in the Willamette Valley and across Oregon, offer clues about how our environment has changed over the millennia. By examining changes in the past, we gain insights that help us more effectively steward our future ecosystems.”
Now they are back.
The mammoth takes center stage at the museum next month with the arrival of two life-size sculptures of the animals.
“Constructed of steel, resin and fiberglass, the monumental works will depict an adult female standing over 12 feet tall, with her young calf trailing closely behind,” the museum said in a statement.
The mammoth statues are the work of Gary Staab, an artist known for “blending science and art to bring extinct species back to life,” according to the museum. “With the help of fossil casts, 3-D scans, and stacks of paleontological literature, he has created replicas ranging from 75-foot-long dinosaurs to the 3 million year-old human ancestor known as Lucy.”
Museum members can see the mammoths and meet the artist during an exclusive preview of the new sculptures on Friday, Oct. 5 at the museum.
Then on Oct. 6 and 7, the museum welcomes the public to A Mammoth Celebration, a weekend-long event that will include a “paleo-sculpting” workshop with Staab and meet Greg Retallack, director of the museum’s Condon Collection of Fossils, who located the 43,000-year-old footprint in Fossil Lake while on an exploratory field trip in 2014 with six UO students.