LITTLE NARROWS — More mastodon bones were found at Little Narrows Gypsum this week, including a rib bone.
Department of Natural Resources senior geologist John Calder and Nova Scotia Museum assistant curator Kathy Ogden were back at the site this week digging through material from the quarry.
The tibia, or shinbone, and a number of smaller bones of a mastodon were discovered in early May by two plant workers.
They were transported to the Nova Scotia Museum in Halifax.
"The challenge is that there is such a massive amount of material to go through," Calder said. "But thank goodness the company dedicated a man and machine to this. They are being good citizens. Sandy MacLeod gently pushed the material with the excavator so we could dig through it with shovels."
Along with the mastodon bones, they found deposits of peat and wood, spruce cones and some insects.
"If you look closely at the rib bone, you can see the cell structure or bone marrow."
Although the bones and wood are fossils, Calder explained that in a geological sense, they are fairly recent, as early as 10,000 years.
"There hasn't been enough time for these pieces of bone and wood to turn to stone, not like the fossils found in the Sydney coalfields."
Because of the amount of material, Calder expects to be back at the site in the near future.
"This is an important find," he said. "The mud also tells the story of how this sinkhole filled in, what it was like. The material that was in with the bones tells us about the environment, so it is all really important because it's parts of a puzzle, it tells a story."
Calder estimates that the sinkhole was about 30 feet deep.
It would have gradually filled in, first with water, mud and eventually became a peat bog.
The pieces of wood tell what kind of trees were growing giving some insight into the mastodon's habitat.
They plan to send a piece of bone and wood to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass., for carbon-14 dating to determine its age, Calder said.
"This will determine if they can get a more accurate date, that will be really fascinating."
Before being transported, the bones are soaked in water and bleach "so they don’t dry out or grow mould or fungus."
Meanwhile, Natural Resources will look for fossil insects in the peat layers.
Calder gave a talk at the Whycocomagh Education Centre this week and he said the students decided the mastodon should be named Mac.