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Stunned Farmer Discovers Woolly Mammoth Bones In Michigan Field

People really want to see what farmer Jim Bristle pulled from his soybean field.

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What came out of farmer Jim Bristle's field has hundreds of fans flocking to his barn — and it ain't the produce.

Last week, Bristle hit on what could be the 15,000-year-old remains of a woolly mammoth while digging in his soybean field, setting off a chain of events that has turned his Michigan farm into something of a tourist draw for looky-loos.

"I'm just so glad to see the enthusiasm, and it's not just from the kids," Bristle told the Ann Arbor News. "The adults who come out here are overwhelmed by this. I guess I'm a bit overwhelmed by it also."

Located in Washtenaw County, west of Ann Arbor, Bristle's farm has also become a major excavation site.

A team of University of Michigan paleontologists were able to recover about 20% of the mammoth's bones, including the skull and two tusks, numerous vertebrae, ribs, the pelvis, and both shoulder blades.

Daniel Fisher, a paleontologist for the university who led the dig, said in a statement that the adult male mammoth likely lived 11,700 to 15,000 years ago, although the remains have not yet been dated.

The site also holds "excellent evidence of human activity" associated with the mammoth remains, he added.

Fisher's team thinks ancient humans may have placed the mammoth carcass in a pond for storage. He pointed to three basketball-sized boulders that were recovered next to the skeletal remains that may have been used to anchor the carcass.

Bristle donated the find to the University of Michigan, which will oversee the restoration and investigation into the skeletal remains.

Wooly mammoths started disappearing from the plains of North America about 11,700 years ago.

Over the years, the remains of 30 mammoths have been recovered in Michigan, Fisher said, so it's not uncommon to field one or two related calls a year about bone finds.

However, most of the mammoth skeletons are not as complete as the remains uncovered on Bristle's farm, Fisher added.

And that has generated plenty of interest, drawing some 200 looky-loos to the farm since Friday. Among them was Judy Coleman, who told Ann Arbor News on Monday that she had pulled her second-grade granddaughter out of class to witness the find.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be this close to something like this," she said.

Watch a video on the dig here:

View this video on YouTube

Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

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