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Mastodon bones unearthed on southern Indiana farm

Sewer project leads to chance discovery of remains belonging to extinct animal who roamed earth over 10,000 years ago

SEYMOUR, Ind. — Pieces of ancient history were found six feet underground on a Southern Indiana farm recently, reminding us of a time when giant mammals roamed the earth.

Several mastodon bones were found on Joe Schepman's family farm in Seymour, Indiana, while a sewer project was underway.

The bones are believed to belong to a male mastodon that was around 50-years-old when it died. The nearly nine-foot-long tusk came out of the ground in one piece and was accompanied by a massive tooth and other bones belonging to the large, extinct, elephant-like creature that roamed the earth over 10,000 years ago.

Credit: WHAS11

The remains would never have been unearthed if it wasn't for the excavation process done during that project. The bones were about six-feet underground. Schepman got the call about their discovery from his sister and brother-in-law, Sue and Tony Nehrt, who also own the farm. Schepman said they were all excited when they found out. 

"Whoa this is something very large and very old," he said. "I mean it was just unbelievable."

The Schepman family has owned the farm for generations and were blown away by the chance discovery.

“It’s hard to wrap your mind around that kind of stuff,” Schepman said. “I’m glad to tell the story about finding it and telling people what I’ve learned about mastodons.”

Credit: WHAS11
Joe Schepman with the mastodon bones unearthed on his southern Indiana farm

Mastodon remains are not entirely unusual in Indiana, however, this find was unique in that the bones were largely intact. The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites houses other mastodon remains found in Fort Wayne, and the Schepman’s plan to donate theirs to the museum as well.

But not before naming their new-found friend.

“My grandfather bought the farm over there originally, so we’re going to name him ‘Alfred’ after my grandfather,” Schepman said.

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