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Grand Rapids Public Museum opened Ice Age: Michigan Frozen Secrets exhibit

 Grand Rapids Blue Bridge
Andrea Flores Pazarin / WGVU News
Grand Rapids Blue Bridge

The Grand Rapids Public Museum opened its Ice Age: Michigan Frozen Secrets exhibit this past weekend (Saturday). A unique exhibition combining selections from the traveling Ice Age & Snow exhibits. The curation includes a third element; some American mastodon bones recently discovered in Newaygo County. Patrick Center has the story.

More than 300 locations across the lower two-thirds of Michigan have produced mastodon materials, but not like the specimen unearthed when the Kent and Newaygo County drain commissions worked a culvert project in 2022 on the property of the Clapp family in Grant Township.

Dr. Cory Redman said, “We know it’s a male mastodon. We know it’s a juvenile, still growing. We think it’s between 10-20 years old when it died.”

Dr. Cory Redman is Grand Rapids Public Museum Science Curator. He says a bone sample was sent off to a lab in Florida where it was carbon-dated.

“We know that the mastodon died 13,210 years ago, plus or minus the error bar of 60 years.”

Doctors from the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University are studying the Clapp Family Mastodon remains. A specimen that is 75-80% complete.

“Which is really, really impressive. Anything over 20% you’re super-excited about. So, 75-80% is absolutely fantastic.”

Its lower jaw with a full set of teeth is the only part of the skull that was found. The mastodon’s cranium and tusks are missing.

The bones recovered are currently drying. It takes a year to a year and a half for the bones to completely dry. They’re being studied, photographed, and cataloged with the intention of putting the Clapp Mastodon on display.