Seeing the Waco Mammoth is a Texas Must

One of the fossils at Waco Mammoth National Monument.

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One of the first things I wanted to do after we arrived in Texas was to visit the Magnolia Silos in Waco. And while the Silos are lovely, they are not the only site to see in this Texas town.

You HAVE to see the Waco Mammoth while you’re there!

The Waco Mammoth National Monument houses the remains of several mammoths, a camel, and a saber-tooth cat!

It was the second ‘Waco thing’ I put on our Fort Cavazos Bucket List and I’m so glad that I did!

Fossils of mammoths, a camel, and a saber-tooth cat at a dig site in Waco, TX.
(The giant tusks of one of the mammoths!)

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Waco Mammoth Fun Facts

  • The remains of the first mammoth were found in 1978 by 2 men searching for arrowheads.
  • Between 1978 and 1990, archaeologists unearthed the remains of SIXTEEN Columbian Mammoths in this area!
  • These mammoths are from the Ice Age.
  • Columbian Mammoths were much bigger than the more well-known Wooly Mammoths. In fact, Columbian Mammoths grew to over 14 feet in height and could weigh as much as 20,000 pounds!
  • They likely had very little hair, thanks to the hot Texas climate.
  • From 1990 to 1997, archaeologists continued to dig up another 6 mammoths, a camel, a dwarf antelope, an alligator, and a giant tortoise.
(Mammoth fossil.)
The camel fossil in Waco, TX.
(The camel remains.)
(It’s so crazy how the bones are still intact thousands of years later!)
(You can walk all the way around the dig site on a raised platform.)

How Did They Die?

How these animals all died together in this specific location is still a mystery.

Researchers don’t believe that they all died at the same time. Instead, there is evidence of 3 different fatal events, occurring years apart, that each killed some of the animals.

One of the most popular theories is that the animals perished in flash floods.

Another theory proposes that the animals came to the area searching for water and found the river dried up, thus dying of dehydration and starvation.

(It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the dig site.)
Kids playing in the pretend dig site at the Waco Mammoth National Monument.
(Kids playing in the pretend dig site.)

All of the fossils that were found before 1990 are housed at Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum. However, the remains found from 1990-1997 are laying right where they took their last breath.

And that’s what you will see when you visit Waco Mammoth National Monument!

It’s a relatively small park, but there are few trails to wander around and there’s a sand box ‘dig site’ where kids can dig up ‘fossils’ and bury them again!

There are only 8 sites in the U.S. where visitors can view fossils lying in situ (still in their original position). So, if you are ever in the Waco area, this is a must-see!

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