Workers found ancient bones beneath the stadium’s north end zone.
In the fall, Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium sees some 45,000 screaming fans cheering on the home team. But 10,000 years ago, the area was very different, as evidenced by some huge bones construction workers unearthed this week under the stadium’s north end zone.
“There are quite a few bones, and dozens of pieces,” said OSU associate professor of anthropology Loren Davis. “Some of the bones are not in very good shape, but some are actually quite well preserved.”
The huge bones, which were unearthed accidentally under the stadium’s north end zone Monday as crews worked on a renovation project, are big. A huge femur was the first bone unearthed, and the smattering of bones are not just from one animal. Apparently, the bones come from a mammoth, an ancient bison, and a camel or horse.
While these days, the end zone sees football action and touchdown celebrations, 10,000 years ago, Davis said, the area may have been a bog or marsh that dying animals may have fled to. “Animals who were sick would often go to a body of water and die there, so it’s not unusual to find a group of bones like this,” Davis said in a press release. “We had all of these types of animals in the Wilamette Valley back then.”
Some students will also get some hands-on experience in helping to excavate some of the additional dirt removed from the site. They are expecting to find more bones when they do.
“It’ll be a great learning experience for them, to learn how to identify extinct animal bones,” Davis said in the release. “It’s really an amazing find.”
Eventually they hope to determine the age of the bones. There have been no human artifacts discovered, which will probably help the university’s renovation project in the long run. Rules about preservation of sites in Oregon apply to archaeological sites where human artifacts are found and not paleontological ones with strictly animal or plant life.
Beavers fans don’t have to worry about losing their home turf to a paleontological dig however. While Davis is bringing in some other experts for a closer look, the school’s officials are expecting only slight delays in construction which is slated to be done in time for the 2016 college football season.
And they also have something unique about their stadium now. How many colleges can claim to have had a mammoth in their football team’s end zone?
Images via Oregon State University.