A Field Trip to Kimmswick

Brian’s post about Albert Koch reminded me that there is an interesting archaeology site just 30 miles from my house. I should mention, before going further, that Brian’s post leaves off just wwhen things at Kimmswick were getting interesting. In the early 1940’s Robert McCormick Adams did a number of excavations at Kimmswick. One of his notable finds was that of a clovis point several layers above a mastodon. In 1979, 1980, and 1984 excavations were performed at Kimmswick under the sponsorship of the Illinois State Museum. The digs were led by Russell W. Graham and led in the finding of clovis point in direct association with mastodon bones. Incidentally, Graham in one of the people behind Faunmap. With that in mind, I thought it would be nice to take my readers on a (virtual) field trip to the museum at Kimmswick. So, put on your name tags, pair up with your previously assigned buddy and get on the bus.


There are a few rules you will need to follow for your safety. First, no throwing paper airplanes (unless they have writing about science on them). Second, no throwing of any other kind of item (unless they are archaeologically related some how). Third, well, I can’t think of a third rule.


Okay, we are at the entrance to the museum, it costs $2.50 per person, but I have paid in advance. The first thing we see is the molar of a young mastodon:

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Before we look at the rest of the museum, there is a short film to watch on the history of the site (which was very up to date on the latest theories on the peopling of the Americas and such). Excuse me, I hate to interrupt the film. I know it is dark in here, but some of you need to quit making out, keep your hands to yourselves, and watch the film…
Now that the film is over, I think we should take the time to examine the nice mural on the wall.

Mural 1

Here is a close up of one a small section:

Mural Inset

Okay, so let’s go out and look at some of the other exhibits. This next exhibit is that of Nebraska Man. Nebraska man was first described in 1922 based on a single tooth. As you can see from the picture below, we have found a lot of Nebraska Man since.

Nebraska Man

Psych! Giggle! Snert! April Fools! It’s really a peccary (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).
The next thing on our tour is a mastodon tusk.


Behind the tusk there is a mastodon femur. We can get a better view of the femur here.

Femur 2

Next, we have a wonderful mastodon innominate.


This next exhibit is one of my favorites, on the left we have a modern beaver, on the right one of the beavers from the time of the Paleo-indians.


What museum would be complete without a diorama. This next exhibit concerns the discovery of the clovis point in association with a mastodon.

Diorama 1

Finally, what we have come to see. The mastodon (this is a reconstruction and not a fossil).

Mastodon 1

We were actually about five feet above ground level for the mastodon. If we walk around the side so that we are on ground level with it, this is what we see.

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Finally, just behind the mastodon is a life sized reconstruction of a giant ground sloth.

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It is, apparently, sticking its tongue out at us so it is time to leave. I realize that we have not seen the bone beds, but they occasionally do digs and I am waiting till then to show them to you.

5 Responses

  1. Teacher! PZ’s throwing spit wads!

  2. Do the have any kind of science related content on them?

  3. Third, well, I can’t think of a third rule.
    In that case, I’ll just go ahead and stick my head and arms outside the bus window while it’s moving.

  4. Hey, it’s your head. Just remember that F=MA.

  5. I’m just having a Holy Cow moment over the giant beaver skull. Although… would Canadians get more respect if our national animal had teeth the size of two-by-fours?

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