Sink Holes

Susie O'Brien and a Gomphotherium found at Swamp and now located in the Frick Wing of the American Museum of Natural History.

Click on Beverly Eschberger's drawing to learn more about Gomphotherium.

Ten million years ago, the Swamp had numerous sink holes.   Evidently, animals used these sink holes to water and sometimes became trapped and died.   As the sink holes filled in, the bones stayed together and this enabled paleontologists to find whole skeletons this century.

In the early part of this century, Child Frick, a wealthy philanthropist and paleontologist from New York (father co founded US Steel), financed excavations on the Swamp for decades, with many full skeletons of saber-tooth tigers, gomphotherium, horses, camels, etc. being sent back either to his home on Long Island (now the Nassau County Museum of Art) or the American Museum of Natural History.   It is said that his fossil hunters found more ancient mammals than anyone else on earth, but were not allowed to breathe a word of their finds to anyone.   His findings on this ranch, led by William Chamberlain, led to the period 10 million years ago, being called the Clarendonian period.

After the depression hit, excavations were continued by the WPA. 

All known sink holes have been mined.   While the astute explorer can still find exciting bones of Clarendonian mammals, Frick's paleontologists did a good job of harvesting.

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