The Mammoth Site and Wind Cave National Park

Our last two days in the Hot Springs, SD area have been truly awe inspiring and unexpected.

For starters, the Mammoth Site is a paleontologist dig site at a former sinkhole in which they have already discovered 62 mammoths.

The site was originally discovered when a housing developer uncovered some bone fragments while bulldozing an unsightly mound in a field.  It was soon determined to be the site of a former sink hole that upon filling with sediments had preserved the bones of countless creatures.  Slowly the paleontologists are uncovering the secrets of this rare site and the findings are amazing.

Somewhat strangely, all the mammoths that have been discovered here are males.  Scientists believe that this was likely due to the fact that young males were kicked out of the herd and later roamed into unknown areas where they ran into trouble with the sinkhole.

Additionally, they found a Short-faced American Bear skull buried among the mammoths. This skull is one of only 12 found in the entire world.  The bear is believed to have perished while scavenging the bodies of the dead or dying mammoths.  Amazing indeed.

Next we visited Wind Cave National Park.  Although we missed our opportunity to take a tour of the cave, we did enjoy the visitor center and were able to feel first hand the wind blowing from the cave opening.  The wind is result of barometric pressure difference between the huge volume of air within the cave and the earths atmosphere above.  The wind was blowing out at 20 MPH while we were there.

Wind Cave is enormous.  At present they have discovered 140 miles of tunnels and that number is sure to increase as explorers and scientists continue to map additional areas.

The Lakota Nation believes that the cave is the birthplace of their people.  Our kids were curious about the Lakota emergence and enjoyed reading the story which also explains how the brother bison was created to sustain the Lakota.

The kids are learning so much with each stop we make.  It’s impossible for anyone to retain all of the info, but it sure is fun to share these experiences with them.  Next stop, Chimney Rock National Historic Site…

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One of many Mammoths at this site

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Morgan at the mouth of the Wind Cave. (140 miles of cave lie beyond)

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