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Mammoth Tracks Prove Beasts Once Roamed Oregon

Mike Full stands next to huge bones from a mammoth skeleton.

Mike Full stands next to huge bones from a mammoth skeleton.

Vince Patton/OPB

More than 50,000 years  ago in Oregon, huge ancestors of elephants roamed the landscape.  And last month, near McMinnville, mammoth tracks were uncovered.

Archaeologists and paleontologists have taken a keen interest in the discovery.

The man who spotted the tracks is Mike Full. He’s a retired police officer who is an active fossil-hunter with other ancient finds under his belt. He saw the mammoth footprints as some McMinnville high-schoolers were conducting a dig at the site.

The site of a mammoth dig.

The site of a mammoth dig.

You might remember Full from an episode of Oregon Field Guide, when he found a giant sloth claw while scuba diving in the Yamhill River a couple of years ago.

Click the audio link at the top of this story to hear the entire interview with Full.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, a headline incorrectly referred to the species of mammoth found in Oregon. The creatures that roamed Oregon were known as Columbia or Imperial mammoths. Woolly mammoths lived much further north.

woolly mammoth tracks