Exhibit Introduction

Since March 13, 2004 visitors to the State Historical Museum of Iowa have been transported to a time of great change. It was a time when the earth began to warm signaling the end of the Ice Age and early humans began migrating to the Iowa region. It also meant the end of great beasts who could not survive these great changes and the competition for dominance.

Mammoth: Witness to Change dominates the museum's atrium and will have visitors in awe as they see, feel and hear life as it was 15,000 to 16,000 years ago. The cornerstone of the exhibit is the complete skeleton of the Hebior Mammoth, discovered near Kenosha, Wis., in 1994.

Standing at nearly 12 feet tall and just over 20 feet long, the Hebior Mammoth spent its last hours tormented by the new predator, humans. This mammoth is considered the most complete skeleton found in the upper Midwest, with roughly 85 percent of it uncovered and preserved. This alone is significant, but the presence of butchering marks, stone tools, and a crushed skull indicates that humans had utilized its flesh 15,000 years ago. It is the first tangible proof that humans and mammoth shared that time when the glaciers were receding and the modern landscape was developing.

Significantly, the construction of the new Allied Insurance and Farmland Insurance headquarters in downtown Des Moines provided a glimpse back into the Pleistocene era. A giant auger cut 55 feet below the city into the body of a mammoth. Fragments of the shoulder area were recovered from the body that lain undisturbed for 16,500 years.

With generous support from Dickson Industries and Allied Insurance, Mammoth: Witness to Change provides the visual story of these and other remnants of the Ice Age through educational displays, artifacts and materials.


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