Zoology

Lincoln College Mammoth

Image of Lincoln College Mammoth bone
In what might have been the most successful college field trip of all time, Lincoln College freshman Judd McCullum discovered the tusk of a Wooly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) during a biology lab at the college’s Creekside Field Station in 2005. McCullum discovered the 12-foot-long tusk while conducting a freshwater mussel survey. The mammoth may have been one of the last of its kind in the region. Carbon-14 dating determined the animal died about 11,500 years ago, well after the glaciers had retreated from Illinois.

Taxidermied Canary

This canary’s name is Nicodemus. He belonged to an Illinois woman in the 19th century. Nicodemus was free from his cage and sitting on a window sash one day when someone threw open the sash and smashed him. His owner was so distraught that she had him stuffed and mounted, and he sat on display in the family parlor for the next several decades.

All Our Own: The Tully Monster

Image of Tully Monster.

Tully Monster.

Their fossils are locally common but have been found nowhere else on Earth. That’s why the Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium), a slender soft-bodied creature with a long, narrow snout and sensory organs (primitive eyes) set away from the body on stalks, has come to represent Illinois as the “State Fossil.” Francis Tully found the first one in 1958. He took it to experts at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for identification, but the scientists were stumped. Museum staff with a sense of humor nicknamed it the “Tully Monster.”

Pottery Bowl

image of pottery bowl  with spoonbill decoration from Pike County, Illinois.
Two thousand years ago, the Native American artisan who created this small clay pot drew an abstract image of what appears to be a bird in the soft clay. What is the meaning of the image? Such puzzles are common in archaeology, and answers generally begin with the phrase "to the best of our knowledge."

Koster Dog

Image of Dog burial
No one knows for sure when wolves and human beings officially began their mutually beneficial partnership, but some of the oldest known domesticated dogs in North America were found at the Koster Site in Greene County. The remains of four dogs were intentionally buried near human burials there about 8,500 years ago.

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