American Mastodon

The femur was found in 1902 by John Bamford while digging up a spring on his farm—about 10 miles northeast of Morris, between Minooka and Plainfield, the White Willow area. He found 5 mastodon skeletons about 15 feet down. Two jaw bones, one weighed 150 pounds and a tusk that was 5 feet long. There were also elk horns and buffalo skulls, as well as Indian pottery and arrowheads.

Mastodons lived 12 million to 10,000 years ago. They weighed approximately 6 tons. They were smaller than mammoths, similar to modern day elephants. They were approximately 10 feet high. The tusks were less curved than mammoths.

Both mammoths and mastodons lived here. You can tell them apart by their teeth:

Mastodon Jaw Bone—found on Bamford farm. Teeth are blunt cones for browsing—clipping and crushing twigs and leaves on shrubs and trees. They were used to strip bark and to bully other mastodons.

Mammoth Jaw—this molar was found at the Peacock Pit, east Armstrong and Cemetery Road. It has a flat, ridged surface like a washboard for grass grazing.

Copper Erratic—this is a big hunk of float copper that arrived in Nels Hextell’s farm in Erienna Township west of here during the Wisconsin Glacier 22,000 years ago. The Native Americans found this stuff and were able to make it into objects since it is fairly soft and easy to heat up and form. This piece weighs 82 pounds.

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