Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000 Page: 85
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The Ice Age Megafauna of Colorado County, Texas
Giganteus. " Perhaps it was indeed part of a proboscidean's hip bone and represented the
remains of either a mastodon or a mammoth. Certainly, Columbus-area proboscidean bones
are preserved in the collections at The University of Texas at Austin, and T. L. Bailey, in a
geological report published in 1923, discussed bones of both mastodon and mammoth which
had been discovered in terraces of Pleistocene age, including finds by Frank Janecka in the
Harvey Creek drainage near Weimar and by unidentified individuals in the Horton and Horton
Gravel Pit on the outskirts of Columbus.13
These two kinds of gigantic creatures are among the last of two long lines of
proboscideans which became extinct in North America at the end of the Ice Age. The
Colorado County area mammoth, with the Asiatic and African elephants as its only living
relatives, was apparently a grazing, plains-living animal. The crowns of its distinct jaw teeth,
bearing a number of transverse ridges, were highly adapted for masticating grasses and
herbs. On the other hand, the mastodon, with no surviving relatives, preferred browse and
probably was more apt to frequent glades. The crowns of its jaw teeth were covered with
rounded, conical cusps, an adaptation highly suitable for chewing woody plant growth. Cer-
tainly the difference between the teeth of these two creatures is the best way for a local
observer to identify proboscidean remains.
Mastodon (Mammut sp.) remains are perhaps less commonly found than those
of the mammoth. Fossil finds, in addition to those from Colorado County mentioned above,
have been reported from excavation sites in San Patricio County and on the Edwards Pla-
teau. Mammoth (Mammuthus sp.) bones, identified and preserved by paleontologists, in-
clude those from Colorado County as well as from Harris, Kenedy, and San Patricio Coun-
ties, and from the Edwards Plateau.
Early Man and Ice Age Mammals in Colorado County
The earliest human invaders, coming from the Old World by way of the Pleis-
tocene land bridge in the Bering Strait area, were unquestionably associated with some of
these soon-to-vanish American Ice Age creatures.'4 That this megafauna thrived in what is
now the Colorado County area 10,000 years ago is certain. However, the reasons for its
decline to extinction both on the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain as well as elsewhere in the North-
13 Colorado Citizen, November 8, 1883; Colorado County Citizen, October 27, 1932; Bailey, The
Geology and Natural Resources of Colorado County, pp. 104 and 118.
14 Martin and Wright, eds., Pleistocene Extinctions: A Search for a Cause; W. W. Newcomb, Jr., The
Indians of Texas (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1966); A. S. Romer, Vertebrate Paleontology (Chicago:
The University of Chicago Press, 1945); Sellards, "Pleistocene Artifacts and Associated Fossils from Bee
County, Texas," R. W. Suhm, "Preliminary Investigation of the La Paloma Mammoth Site (Late Pleistocene),
Kenedy County, Texas."
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000, periodical, July 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151409/m1/21/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.