After the dinosaurs were wiped out, paleontology got pretty boring — except for the mammoths. These ambulatory haystacks are the superstars of the Pliocene epoch. They are the one mammal that every roadside zoo would like to have, even though they’re extinct.
In downtown Los Angeles, California, 34 mammoths have been unearthed under a parking garage, and one, named Zed, is being cleaned in the La Brea Tar Pits “fish bowl” preparation room for all visitors to see.
In Tucson, Arizona, a Russian museum has put a mammoth skeleton in the atrium of the Arizona state office complex in the hope that someone will buy it. “Boy,” said a museum curator from Pittsburgh in the Arizona Daily Star, “I wish the level of paleontological commercialism could be reduced down there.”
And in Moorpark, California, the town is honoring a recently unearthed mammoth by building a life-size fake mammoth bone site in the city park’s sandbox. “Kids will be able to play on it,” writes the Ventura County Star, and concrete mammoth footprints have been added to “lead park visitors from the parking lot to the bones.”
Reminds us of the concrete moonprints in West Lafayette, Indiana — made by Neil Armstrong, who is not yet a fossil.
The concrete moonprints are fabulous. Sometimes, I fly family in from across the country so we can make a pilgrimage out to see them.
Also of note in West Lafayette is the giant fan that blows vanilla-scented oil across the Wabash River to cover the poop smell from the water treatment plant, so when folks visit, it is always guaranteed to leave an impression — no pun intended.
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