Texas, Home of the Mammoth(?)

Early in our homeschooling journey, we made a point of taking a year-end trip that wrapped up whatever we studied into a neat (albeit, sometimes expensive) little bow.   Our studies of rock striations led us to Big Bend National Park and to the Grand Canyon.   And what would a study of Civil War history be without shots of the Vicksburg National Cemetery and Natchez, Mississippi?     Fast-forwarding a few years with one kid in college, one kid with a foot in college and a foot in high school and both feet dancing all over various states, plus a host of other life changes, and it’s safe to say that I am “slipping” on my A game, you know?

Every so often life affords us a chance to capture some of that magical lesson planning again.

Our first trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center was in 2009, and we were so thrilled with this glimpse of what an African safari tour might look like until we decided to return in 2012.   Totally unfamiliar with what the Wildlife Center had to offer, our initial excitement in 2009 was the dinosaur trails and tracks that are now heavily traveled tourist areas in that section of Texas.   Dinosaurs?   In Texas?!!   You better believe it!

The problem with our visit at that time was that we chose to travel after a freakishly heavy rain that left all of the tracks under water.   However, the “buzz” in the area was of a museum to come in the Waco area that would prominently display our ancient friends in the wild.   Five years later, we took a trek up the road to Waco, where we saw Mammuthus columbi, aka the Columbian mammoth.

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I took a picture of him (her?) here with the tour guide to give a perspective on its size, if it were a real mammoth.   And that was perhaps the biggest disappointment of this otherwise interesting and informative tour.   Apparently, there was a herd of over one dozen elephants who died after a natural disaster of some sort (the Great Flood, perhaps, based upon the rock striations?).  Moreover, we were told that they died in a circle, obviously gathering to protect each other from their impending collective doom.   Wouldn’t that be something to see?   Sadly, that sight was not preserved, and most of the finds from the dig were transported to Baylor University for further study.  What is left are various bones and breath-taking artwork of what might have been.


mammoth museum nov 2014 pic 1


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Whether you believe in evolution or creation or something in between,seeing even a tiny glimpse of what life was like in the earliest of days was a treat.  I do hope that these final remains of the original herd will be kept in a better fashion, and accessible to the public.   After all,to see the woolly mammoth’s remains, we would have to travel all the way to Siberia (unless we can find the Fossil Rim equivalent for woolly mammoths here in Texas)!

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2 thoughts on “Texas, Home of the Mammoth(?)

  1. My kids love field trips. I do try to have them do some prep before the trip, like prepare a paper or research some of the things we are going to see. After the trip they do a project presentation of what they learned.

    1. Fantastic, Nita, and it’s good that your children enjoy both the trip and the way to capture what they learned afterward. Honestly, in trying to be sure that I instituted “rigor,” (or at least my version of it), I would have the kids do a report or presentation/ illustration or notebooking exercise after our field trips when they were younger. Somewhere in the midst of that practice, I realized that I was draining the fun out of the field trip for them. Once I relaxed a bit and just allowed them to take in the trip, I found that they actually learned much more than was ever captured on paper. I loved hearing their conversations, both immediate and much later (as in years) about what those trips meant to them.

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