The Randolph Mammoth, one of the most complete examples of its species ever discovered in New York state, returns to the Cattaraugus County Museum and Research Library as the centerpiece of a new fossil exhibit.
On the afternoon of Saturday, May 19, 1934, workers using a power scraper to dig a pond at the State Fish Hatchery near Randolph made a startling discovery. They unearthed what was later identified as the skull and tusks of a Columbian mammoth; a particularly rare find for our region. In the days that followed, much excitement was generated in the area as thousands of locals flocked to the dig site to witness the unearthing.
Dr. C.A. Hartnagel, the assistant state paleontologist sent to Randolph to oversee the excavation, stated at the time that it was the first find of its kind in the state and of great scientific importance.
Soon, however, the Randolph Mammoth was crated and shipped to Albany, where it would spend several decades on display at the State Museum.
The Randolph Mammoth is one of the most complete mammoth specimens ever found in New York State; most other mammoth material is fragmentary, often consisting of just a tooth. It is believed to be a Columbian Mammoth, considerably rarer in our region than the Wooly Mammoth. Both tusks together weigh about 150 lbs. The skull weighs about 200 lbs. When living, the mammoth probably stood about 14 feet high at the shoulder.
In 2011, the State Museum began loaning the original tusks and a cast of the skull to museums around the state to display. It finally returned to Cattaraugus County in 2016, where is remained on exhibit at the County Museum for nearly two years.
Now, the museum plays host to the mammoth once again, as it opens a new fossil exhibit that features specimens representing eras spanning from the Paleozoic to the Pleistocene. Several items in the new display appear courtesy of generous loans from the State Museum and the Buffalo Museum of Science.
Come visit the County Museum!