Farmer finds woolly mammoth bones in Michigan field

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Farmer Finds Woolly Mammoth Bones in Washtenaw County Field

LIMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- James Bristle and a friend were digging in his southern Michigan soybean field when they unearthed what looked like a bent fence post, caked with mud. Instead, it was part of a pelvis from an ancient woolly mammoth that lived up to 15,000 years ago.

A team of paleontologists from the University of Michigan and an excavator recovered about 20 percent of the animal's skeleton this week in Washtenaw County's Lima Township. Aside from the pelvis, they found the skull and two tusks, along with numerous vertebrae, ribs and both shoulder blades.

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"We think that humans were here and may have butchered and stashed the meat so that they could come back later for it," Daniel Fisher, the scientist who led the dig, said Friday.

Three boulders the size of basketballs found next to the remains may have been used to anchor the carcass in a pond, he said.

Mammoths and mastodons, another elephant-like creature, were common in North America before disappearing around 11,700 years ago. Remains of about 300 mastodons and 30 mammoths have been discovered in Michigan, Fisher said, although most of the mammoth finds aren't as complete as the one in Bristle's field.

Bristle told the Ann Arbor News he bought the property a couple of months ago. He and his friend were digging to make way for a new natural gas line when they found the odd object.

"When my 5-year-old grandson came over and saw the pelvis, he just stood there with his jaw wide open and stared. He was in awe," Bristle said.

The bones will be cleaned and examined by university researchers for cut marks that would indicate human activity, Fisher said. Study of the bones may shed light on when humans arrived in the Americas, a topic of debate among archaeologists.

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NTP: Archaeologists discover 90 dinosaur footprints
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Farmer finds woolly mammoth bones in Michigan field
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Excavation leader Benjamin Englich examines a footprint of a dinosaur, found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Volunteers are silhouetted by the rising sun while clearing rocks next to footprints of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus), found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Excavation leader Benjamin Englich examines a footprint found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Volunteers clear rocks from footprints of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus), found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: A model of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus) is pictured inside Dinosaurs-Park Muenchehagen, next to the quarry where archaeologists discovered 90 Dinosaurs footprints, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Footprints of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus), found in a quarry, are pictured on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Excavation leader Benjamin Englich examines a footprint, found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Volunteers clear rocks from footprints of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus), found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Models of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus) are pictured inside Dinosaurs-Park Muenchehagen, next to the quarry where archaeologists discovered 90 Dinosaurs footprints, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: A model of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus) is pictured inside Dinosaurs-Park Muenchehagen, next to the quarry where archaeologists discovered 90 Dinosaurs footprints, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Volunteers clear rocks from footprints of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus), found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Excavation leader Benjamin Englich examines a footprint, found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: Footprints of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus), found in a quarry, are pictured on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
MUENCHEHAGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: A volunteer pushes a barrow with cleared rocks from a site of footprints of a long-neck dinosaurs (Diplodocus), found in a quarry, on August 20, 2015 in Muenchehagen, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
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