Two Layers of Bones

This tooth was found several years ago on a sand bar along Kanaranzi Creek. It probably eroded out from the layer of gravel that’s buried beneath the Creek bed. And, it’s probably a tooth from a wooly mammoth. That suggests that the buried gravel was originally deposited during the Ice Age thousands of years ago.

Here are two more specimens that most likely also came from that buried layer of glacial gravel. I think that the long piece of splintered horn might be from an Ice Age bison. Maybe the big, dark brown knuckle is also from a bison? That’s all speculation on my part. We’ll have to show them to a paleontologist who knows about really old bones.

We can see the top of the glacial gravel exposed in the lower part of the Creek bank when the water level is low. However, most of the steep banks along the channel show a thick layer of black clay and silt that was deposited by the Creek in the last few hundred years. This layer of alluvium also has bones that erode out of the steep banks and end up on modern sand bars.

The bones in the alluvium layer are also from bison, more commonly referred to as buffalo. We found these three skulls in 1997, 2001, and 2014. In addition, we found these six horns. So that represents at least six total buffalo! Growing up along the Creek in the 1950s, my brother and I searched a lot and only found one small piece of horn. And, the previous generations of children and grandchildren of the homesteaders never found any that I know of. The Creek is eroding a lot more lately, so there are more buffalo bones coming out of the alluvium layer lately.

The buffalo bones are broken open in strange patterns and lots are splintered. Some seem to show cut marks. It looks like there may have been a buffalo butcher shop back when Native Americans lived along the Creek. However, buffalo bones look a lot like cattle bones so we’ll have to get an expert’s opinion on these bones too. That will come from an archaeologist who knows about younger bones.

Earlier this month, a paleontologist worked on excavating a mammoth tusk at the town of Hills about 20 miles west of our farm. So, there are Ice Age fossils over that way as well. I don’t know if the tusk was exposed in glacial gravel like the layer below Kanaranzi Creek. But, this would be a scientist who could confirm that our tooth really did come from a mammoth. Now we’ll have to find an archaeologist who might be able to confirm the butcher marks on the younger buffalo bones.

About Lone Tree Farm on Kanaranzi Creek

Recovering academic, earth scientist in phased retirement, farm manager by default, son, husband, father, grandfather.
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2 Responses to Two Layers of Bones

  1. Judy says:

    I love this stuff George!


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