Imagine quietly setting up your tent and starting a fire in the Colorado Rocky Mountain wilderness. From a distance, you hear some rustling in the grass and a splash in the creek bed. If it were 70,000 years ago, you wouldn’t rule out a wooly mammoth stomping through looking for some grub as the noisemaker. In the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age exhibit, we can go back to that time, an age when ancestors of the elephant roamed our mountains and even our eastern Plains.
The exhibit, which is on loan from Chicago’s Field Museum, also premiere’s the findings from the Snowmastadon site near Snowmass, Colorado and even more recent findings from a gravel pit in Holyoke, Colorado. Walk through the cases of fossils and even a replica of the most preserved baby mammoth ever found. But the best parts of this display aren’t behind glass: You can run your hands over mammoth and mastodon teeth, replica tusks, and tufts of the bristly hair. Stand beneath the life-sized wooly mammoth and its pals, the 12-foot bear and snarling mountain lion.
If the process of uncovering the bones from at least 70,000 years ago is just as interesting as the findings themselves, save time to stop in the exhibit’s final room. There, paleontologists actively work to remove the plaster casts that protect them on their journey from the dig sites to the museum.
Go Now: The Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age exhibit runs through May 27 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.