Cornell's Gilbert Mastodon Research: Taphonomy

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 is part of 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 of the mastodon 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.