Discovered by an excavation crew in 1926 on the bank of the Ohio River near Golconda in Pope County, this Wooly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) specimen didn’t come quietly. Illinois State Museum Director Aljah R. Crook worked with the crew on scene to recover as much of the mammoth skeleton as possible. To speed up the process, the crew used dynamite to remove the overburden of soil and rock. The use of explosives is a dangerous and heavy-handed technique that makes today’s curators shudder at the thought of possibly damaging the specimen. Several parts of the skeleton were found, however, including the skull, lower jaw, left tusk, right femur, and ribs. At the time of discovery, this was the most complete Wooly Mammoth skeleton found in Illinois. The tusk is still displayed in its original mount, designed more than 90 years ago for public exhibit. This specimen is significant because it is one of the southernmost records of the Wooly Mammoth.
A dynamite discovery