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Visit mastodons and mammoths at the Indiana State Museum

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The Indiana State Museum in White River State Park in Indianapolis opened a fascinating exhibit in November, 2013. Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons presents the life and times of these magnificent creatures that roamed Indiana some 13,000 years ago.

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The exhibit is remarkable in its scope. The stages of the presentation take the museum patron through the long and tedious process of the discovery and eventual excavation of a bone rich site. The recreation of an actual dig site brings the visitor into the middle of the tasks required to remove the delicate bones of the ancient creatures. Of special interest to kids is the interactive dig pit. Here kids get a real hands on experience.

Additional stages of the exhibit include the study of the recovered bones to shed light on the possible causes of the animal’s death, the environment of the times, and the age and sex of the specimens. The great Hall of Giants holds the largest collection of mammoth and mastodon bones in the Midwest. Many of the bones have been donated by Hoosiers wanting the specimens to be preserved and displayed for all to enjoy. Another stage explores the reasons for the extinction of these huge creatures.

The highlight of the exhibit is the “Tusk to Tusk” display of two full mounted skeletons. One of these was excavated in Allen County in northeast Indiana. Known as Fred by all, this mastodon seems to be facing off against a mammoth from Wisconsin.

A news release from the museum shares the excitement felt by the curator: “I am extremely excited about this project, which, I believe is going to blow the minds of museum visitors this fall,” said Indiana State Museum Senior Research Curator of Paleobiology Ron Richards. “Guests will get to walk among the remains of giant mammoths and mastodons that roamed Indiana some 13,000 years ago.”

A trip to the Indiana State Museum is truly a great adventure. While Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons is a trip into prehistory, it is also most assuredly a historic destination worth a visit. Admission to the exhibition is included with Indiana State Museum members and general admission guests. For more information about the exhibit, special events, online ticket sales and more, call 317.232.1637 or visit indianamuseum.org.

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