Airdate : 6/19/2012
A farmer from Iowa made what can only be described as a "mammoth" discovery—a giant femur bone from a prehistoric beast.
The bone from the mammoth measures an extraordinary 46 inches and weighs about 70 pounds.
INSIDE EDITION spoke to Sarah Horgen of the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History.
So how big would the full creature have been?
"We're estimating about 10 to 12 feet tall, and weighing about 10 tons or so," said Horgen.
Horgen says a find of this importance is rare.
"We're very excited," said Horgen.
Mammoths have been extinct since the end of the last ice age—12,000 years ago. Most people probably think the mammoth roamed the earth in faraway places like Asia and Africa. Not so. They also existed right here in North America—even in Iowa.
Farmer John, who asked us not to reveal his last name, says he was walking in his backyard, just 300 yards behind his house, when a rain storm washed away six feet of dirt. That was when John spotted the top of the mammoth bone stuck in the mud. It must have been buried there for 12,000 years.
"It was a huge, huge bone. The only thing I could think of was that it had to be a mammoth," said John.
John said that right after digging out the bone, he discovered yet another bone. Then he unearthed a piece of vertebrae. More were to come. His farmland turned into a burial ground for mammoths.
So far, John has collected about 42 bones.
Archaeologists and volunteers have descended on his farm. They sift through the dirt by hand and probe the soil on their hands and knees in sweltering heat.
INSIDE EDITION's cameras were there to capture the latest discovery—a piece of bone from the mammoth's foot.
Ground penetrating radar maps out hot spots 6 feet below the surface, where more mammoth bones lay.
Aboard a back ho, John excavated the top soil.
"We're getting down to where we hope the bone layer is," said Horgen.
The more meticulous probing must be done by hand.
The back-breaking work paid off—a long piece of rib bone is discovered.
One of those magical moments farmer John sums up in a word: "Priceless," said John.
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