Taphonomy basically means "studying what happens to animals
(or plants) between the time they die and the time they are
found as a fossil." This question often allows scientists
to discover a little bit about the environment at the time the
now-fossilized creature was living (and dying).
Cornell's Gilbert Mastodon actually appears to include bones
of at least two extinct mammals; one is a relatively complete
mastodon and the other may actually be a mammoth! The bones
are scratched in a way that leads scientists to believe they
were trampled by other animals not long after death. Both tusks
are present, but the skull was broken into hundereds of small
fragments. Also present at the Chemung site are bones of muskrat
and the extinct stag moose.