Iowa Mammoth Bones Spark Massive Excavation in Family's Backyard

In Iowa a set of mammoth bones have been found, sparking an excavation in one Oskaloosa family's backyard to dig up the prehistoric mammoth.

A father and his two sons first found some bones way back in July 2010, according to reports, as they walked in the trees on their property.

The family at that time found what turned out to be the mammoth's femur, but the bones they recovered were only brought to the University of Iowa for identification last month. The professor emeritus of Geoscience, Holmes Semken, identified the bones and moved to enlist the help of numerous volunteers to help dig at the site of the mammoth.

The mammoth is thought to be lying about six feet below the surface, according to ABC News.

Sarah Horgen, education coordinator at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, which is overseeing the excavation and research, has said, "The size of this discovery is quite uncommon. It's pretty exciting–partially because the mammoth is being discovered where it died. And we know that because we're finding very large bones right alongside very small bones," according to ABC.

Over recent weeks the mammoth's feet bones and its floating and thoracic ribs have been recovered.

Semken said, "The femur is about 4 feet long. The ribs of the diaphragm that move when you breathe are 2 and half feet each. The ribs that connect to the breast bone are 4 feet. You could use one for a walking cane."

The scientists plan to study the pollen samples and seeds lodged within the bones, and the compound make up to understand the environment from the mammoth's era, as well as what it might have fed on and other information on how it lived.

Semken added, "We don't know how widely scattered the bones are," but said they are willing to dig for "as long as it takes."