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Several prehistoric mammoths have been excavated in the Black Rock Desert area. Casts of the bones are on display at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, Nevada and the Humboldt County Museum in Winnemucca.

Initially, there were reports that human artifacts had been found with the bones. However, later analysis indicated that the human artifacts were on the surface and it was not possible to state that humans and mammoths had been present at the same time in this location. [1]

In addition, the bones were not found in their natural positions, which suggested to some that they had been moved by humans during butchering. Later analysis suggested that they had been moved by water.[2]

1981 Dig

On Labor Day Weekend in 1979, Steve Wallmann found what appeared to be a mammoth tooth. He notified Dr. William Clelow of UCLA and in 1980 Wallman guided Clewlow to the site. [3] [4] [5]

An alternative recount of the discovery states that in 1981 Bill DeLong guided scientists to a site near Jackson Creek Ranch. [6]

In the summer of 1982, Clewlow returned to the site and excavated the entire skeleton.[7][8]

Casts of the bones from the mammoth were used to make up the dioramas at the Humboldt County Museum in Winnemucca, Nevada an the State Museum in Carson City, Nevada. [9] [1] [10] [11] [12]

How Old?

An initial news report stated that a tooth was tested. Clewlow was quoted as saying "the first solid date we got indicated it's about 20,000 years old."[4]

The Nevada Museum page for the mammoth display in Carson City states: "We also do not have a firm date on this mammoth, but a nearby site dated by the Desert Research Institute suggests a date between 15,000 and 17,000 years ago. A radiocarbon date on the bone, submitted by Betty Stout, appears too young at 11,000 ago."[9][7]

1988 Dig

In August, 1988, staff from DRI and the Nevada State Museum returned to the site of the 1981-82 dig and to other fossil-bearing sites in the area. [13] [14]

In 1988, Dick Hilton, a Sierra College Geology instructor lead a group to the area that discovered a decayed molar. The group returned in 1990 and again in 1991. In 1991, a tusk was excavated. [15]

In February, 1993, a mammoth from the Black Rock Desert was exhibited at the Nevada State Museum.[16][17][18]

In August, 1994, the BLM offered tours of the location where the mammoths were found.[19]

In 1996, Stephanie Livingston stated that a rancher had known about the DeLong site 30 or 40 years previously and that her group did not visit the area until 1988 when an amateur archaeologist took them there. Livingston stated that the DeLong site was not far from the location where the Mammoth in the Carson City museum was found.[20]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stephanie Livingston, Claudia Miner, "Mammoths, Prehistory Archaeology and Interdisciplinary Research," in "Science, Values, and the American West," edited by Stephen Tchudi. 1997.
  2. DRI News, Third Quarter, 1992 (The Humboldt Museum has a copy) - The article states that the bones of three to five mammoths were found and states that the bones probably washed down a channel and deposited.
  3. Sessions S. Wheeler, "The Black Rock Desert," p. 189. Discussion about Steve Wallmann's Labor Day 1979 discovery of the mammoth.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Brendan Riley, "New Evidence Man was here 20,000 years ago," September 30, 1981, page 17, Reno Gazette-Journal, AP. Clewlow "was led to the site a year ago by an Oregon Logger, Steve Wallmann, who spotted what appeared to be a mammoth tooth while exploring in the desert during a vacation." The tooth was dated to being 20,000 years old.
  5. Battle Mountain Bugle, October 7, 1981, p16 (The Humboldt Museum has a copy in their files) The article states that the bones were found piled upon each other and that human made artifacts were found nearby. In addition, a tooth was dated as being 20,000 years old.
  6. 2016-04-18 of History of Use for Roads in the Jackson Mountain Area, Nevada "In 1981, Bill DeLong guided scientist to a fossilized mammoth on the Black Rock Desert near Jackson Creek Ranch. Bill found the site while moving cattle. He could see portions of the mammoth tusks sticking from the ground. Although at the time, he did not know exactly what it was that he had found. Scientist excavated the site in the summer of 1981 and found a nearly complete fossilized mammoth dated approximately 20,000 years old. Replicas of the mammoth bones are now on display at the Humboldt County Museum in Winnemucca, Nevada, and the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, Nevada. The book, Nevada's Black Rock Desert, by Sessions S. Wheeler, published in 1994 by the Caxton Printers, Ltd. of Caldwell, Idaho, gives a brief account of the discovery on page 195." Note that the page number is incorrect for the above edition of Wheeler.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Betty Stout, "Discovery and C14 Dating of the Black Rock Desert Mammoth," Nevada Archaeologist, pp. 21-23, vol. 5, no. 2 1986.
  8. "" Mammoths suffered a drought," November 16, 1992, page 11, Reno Gazette-Journal. Includes file photo of the dig.
  9. 9.0 9.1 2015-03-21 of Nevada Culture Museum A mammoth from the Black Rock Desert is on display. The page states "The mammoth was first discovered in 1979 by an Oregon logger, Steve Wallmann. He reported it to Dr. William Clewlow, Jr. of Ancient Enterprises, an archaeologist with extensive experience in Black Rock Desert archaeology, and a Nevada State Museum research associate" and "In the summer of 1982 Dr. Clewlow and his crew exposed the entire skeleton"
  10. Donald K. Grayson, "The Great Basin: A Natural Prehistory," page 211, 2011. "Casts of mammoth remains from the Black Rock Desert may be seen at the Nevada State Museum (see notes for chapter 9) and at the Humboldt Museum in Winnemucca. This latter museum has reconstructions of the Black Rock Desert's Delong mammoth, excavated by Stephanie D. Livingston (See figure 4-1 and Livingston 1992b) show as it appeared on the ground." See Figure 4.1.
  11. Humboldt Museum, Winnemucca "The Humboldt Museum's centerpiece attraction comprises several sets of wooly mammoth bones unearthed near the Black Rock Desert." actually, they are probably casts. "The bones are 13,000 years old!" a change from the previous dating. "The Humboldt Museum's collection of Pleistocene bones were excavated by archaeologists from the Quaternary Science Center of the Desert Research Institute in Reno, with the cooperation of the Bureau of Land Management, under the direction of Dr. Stephanie Livingston."
  12. Image : "Columbia mammoths, which were relatives of woolly mammoths, roamed as far south as the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, where this fossil was found. The fossil was excavated under the direction of Stephanie D. Livingston, then of the Desert Research Institute"
  13. Donald R. Tuohy, "Notes on a Clovis Point From the Black Rock Desert, Nevada," page 11, Nevada Archaeologist Volume 7, Number 1, 1989. Mammoth find at the Jackson Creek Ranch in 1981 and 1982. In 1988, DRI researchers were guided by Steve Wallman to the Mammoth find and to other sites. "The sites were already known to the local ranchers, the Bill DeLong family, and a few others, including one professional archeologist, Dr. C. William Clewlow."
  14. Livingston, Stephanie D., "The DeLong Mammoth Locality, Black Rock Desert, Nevada," Current Research in the Pleistocene. 8: 94-97. 1992
  15. "Sierra College King Tusk", Auburn Journal, July 12, 1991. "Dick Hilton, college geology instructor...". "The remote desert fossil site was first discovered during a Sierra College Science Club trip in the spring of 1988." "Another science club group returned to the site in Fall 1990.
  16. Opening February 24 Mammoth exhibit," February 25, 1993, page 55, Reno Gazette-Journal.
  17. "Mammoth on display," February 26, 1993, page 17, Reno Gazette-Journal. Includes photo.
  18. "New Display a Big Hit," March 15, 1993, page 14, Reno Gazette-Journal. Includes photo.
  19. "Public Tours of Mammoth Site Offered," August 3, 1994, page B-1, Reno Gazette-Journal. Includes general map of location.
  20. "Mammoth Undertaking," March 18, 1996, Reno Gazette-Journal.

External Resources