Minty is looking over Mammoth W, a young female at the Waco Mammoth Site. Mammoth W (some of us call her Wanda) is special for many reasons.
W lies in the uppermost level, unlike the other females buried in the lowest level, pictured in the lower right. She was not part of the nursery herd that perished 65,000 years ago. Instead, she was buried with Mammoth Q, our male, roughly 50,000 years ago. This is one of many unsolved mysteries at the site. Were they a mating pair? Or had they just met? Bones from at least two mammoths lie between them, one of them from a juvenile. Are we seeing the outer edges of yet another nursery herd, or is this a small group who wandered off on their own?
W also is our most-studied mammoth. Her tusk was removed to examine the growth rings inside. Thickness of the rings indicate the health of the animal; isotopes contained within them tell us where they migrated.
But most importantly, W was the last mammoth excavated at the site, discovered in 2000. Excavation has been on hold since then, waiting for the site to get the facilities it needs for full research and preservation of the fossils. Until then, other fossils remain safely buried, waiting for us.
You can help. A petition to add the Waco Mammoth Site to the United States National Park Service is being presented to the White House. If added, development of the site will speed up, and research can start again. Please consider signing, and be sure to tell others!