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Digging Snowmastodon: Discovering an Ice Age World in the Colorado Rockies Paperback – March 22, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: People's Press; First edition (March 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193690506X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936905065
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.4 x 10.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Digging Snowmastodon is part science and part love. Johnson and Miller bring to life one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the new century. What an incredible read.

- John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado

 In have only dreamed of mastodon bones but Kirk, Ian, and Joe gave us the gift of participating in this amazing experience in Snowmass, Colorado. This is a special story that my husband Derek Trucks and I will share with our grandchildren someday.

- Susan Tedeschi, award winning singer/guitarist with the Tedeschi Trucks Band

 This is a brilliantly told tale of one of the most exciting finds in modern geology, a treasure hunt with a perfect, inspirational conclusion. You’ll never look at the Earth in quite the same way again!

- Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map that Changed the World

 Sit down with this book, and you are instantly a welcomed visitor to a place inhabited by revitalized mastodons and camels, environmentally sensitive bulldozer operators, charismatic paleontologists, noble volunteers, and colorful residents of the West’s quirky resort communities. Kirk Johnson and Ian Miller, as the world’s best tour guides, offer an outing to the promised land of the armchair traveler.

- Patty Limerick, Faculty Director of the Center of the American West, University of Colorado, and author of Legacy of Conquest and A Ditch in Time: Denver, the West, and Water

About the Author

Kirk Johnson is the Chief Curator and Vice President for Research and Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He earned a Ph. D. in geology and paleobotany at Yale University in 1989 and has been at DMNS since 1991. His research focuses on fossil plants, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and methods for dating rocks and fossils. His research has taken him to all continents and he is presently working on projects in Patagonia, Utah, and Colorado. Dr. Johnson is the leader of the Snowmastodon Project.

 

Ian Miller is Curator of Paleontology and Chair of the Earth Sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He earned a Ph. D. in geology and paleobotany at Yale University in 2007, and has been at DMNS since 2007. His research focuses on fossil plants and their applications for understanding ancient elevation, climate, and the position of continents. He is presently working on projects in the Colorado Rockies and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah. Dr. Miller is the co-leader of the Snowmastodon Project.

 


More About the Author

Kirk R. Johnson is the Sant Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. He received his PhD in geology and paleobotany from Yale University in 1989, and did postdoctoral research in the rainforests of northern Australia before joining the Denver Museum of Natural History in 1991, where he directed the installation of the museum's Prehistoric Journey exhibit. His research focuses on fossil plants, the environmental effects of the dinosaur-smiting asteroid, and the birth and death of biomes. Johnson also works with artists to create accurate and plausible paintings, murals, and dioramas of prehistoric landscapes, several of which are on display in the Colorado Convention Center. Johnson lives in Washington, D. C.

Customer Reviews

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See all 7 customer reviews
It is written for the average interested person to understand and enjoy.
Gerald B. McDaniel
Johnson and Miller's style is light, accessible, accurate, well illustrated, and captures the excitement of the discoveries!
John W. Stockwell Jr.
Bought it for my son to do a science project on the subject but I find myself reading it just because I want to!
jmduvi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John W. Stockwell Jr. on July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
(This review was originally published in the trade journal The Leading Edge,
and is reproduced here with the permission of the Society of Exploration
Geophysicists.)

On 14 October 2010, while excavating for the expansion of a dam on a small lake located near the ski resort town of Showmanss, Colorado, buldozer operator Jesse Steele uncovered bones of what turned out to be a Columbian mammoth. In the authors'own words "This book is the story of what happened over the next nine months as Jesse's mammoth turned into the most significant high-elevation ice age fossil site in the world and the biggest fossil dig in Colorado history." The book is largely an account of everybody doing the right thing, from the bulldozer operator, his boss, to local and state government officials, to the staff and volunteers of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where Kirk Johnson is vice president of Research and Collections and chief curator, and Ian Miller is department chair of Earth Science and curator of Paleontology.

Ultimately, the task facing the museum and volunteers was to move 7000 cubic yards of earth in 50 days, digging by hand with shovels, while taking care to study the stratigraphy and collect and preserve the more than 4000 fossil bones that were discovered.

The layout of the book is bright and bold, consisting of many illustrations, photographs, sketches, and line drawings. In the introduction, Johnson talks about his personal life, and other digs that he was on prior to this find, giving a human touch to the book. He sets the scene for subsequent chapters, three of which are labeled "Acts" and the fourth "Coda." The sections of these Acts are titled by the range of dates of the events described.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Victoria on August 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Heard Kirk Johnson talk at our NHGRI Award Ceremony and was so taken with his talk I purchased the book...I use to live and work in Colorado so I had a great interest in this book and then gave it to a friend of mine who also lived there but shared it with her 8 year old son...Loved it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stevens VINE VOICE on March 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
When the news broke that a bulldozer driver working near Snowmass Village had turned over the bones of a mammoth in October of 2010, I was riveted. I devoured every newspaper account, sometimes clipping them for a file. It wasn't just bones from one mammoth, it turned out to be a spot where a massive collection of fossils were buried in an ancient lake bed. There were bones from camel, bison, horse, giant ground sloth and mastodon, among others. Crews uncovered 5,000 bones from 41 different kinds of animals.

I can't speak for others, but the cool factor here is the number of bones in one spot, the variety of animals, and being asked to imagine the landscape and the climate from 130,000 or so years ago.

Fast-forward about 15 months from when the digging stopped (the bulldozer was there to help build a new reservoir and that work had resumed) and I was asked to assist with promoting an upcoming book about the dig. So, full disclosure here that I am involved with the authors and publishers of "Digging Snowmastodon." Nonetheless, "Digging Snowmastodon" is an easy-to-read and entirely engaging account of the discovery.

The find is fascinating but so is how the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, led by paleontologists Kirk Johnson and Ian Miller, responded to the dig-on-a-deadline situation and how teams extracted so much history from the mud, clay, silt, soil and earth. The book sizzles with enthusiasm, includes page after page of fascinating details.

"Digging Snowmastodon" focuses on two main storylines. First is the effort to organize volunteers, interns, scientific experts and the community.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gerald B. McDaniel on April 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is outstanding! As residents of the Denver area and long-time members of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, my wife and I were excited to follow the news about the dig at Snowmass Village. When the museum offered a screening of the National Geographic Society's film documenting the dig, on the IMAX screen, and including an appearance and comments by many of the people involved with the project, we quickly bought tickets. The program, especially the live presentations, far exceeded our expectations. Dr. Kirk Johnson was perfect in his presentation about the dig. His knowledge, his first-hand experience, and his great humor kept the large audience's full attention. Now, we have this book written by him and Ian Miller, and it is an excellent read. It is written for the average interested person to understand and enjoy. It's loaded with photos, excellent illustrations, easy-to-understand sidebar explanations, and some great quips, all of which make this a very accessible and enjoyable book. The personal comments and the clear picture of all that goes into conducting a rushed, but professional, dig make the whole story lively and entertaining. I heartily recommend this book to anyone with any interest at all in one of the greatest recent discoveries in America.
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