If extinct species interest you, you’ll find the woolly mammoth skeleton at the Environmental Learning Center in Oskaloosa very interesting. The first bones were discovered by a Mahaska County landowner in 2010, and a dig supervised by the Mahaska County Conservation Board was conducted from 2012 to 2015. This was the first site in Iowa found to contain woolly mammoth bones. Scientists eventually concluded that there were three woolly mammoths at the site. The skeleton was named “Woolly” by the public in a recent naming contest.

Woolly was big. It was about the size of a modern African elephant or 9 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed 6 tons. Their range in North America stretched from Alaska southeast to the American Midwest and they were well adapted to live in cold weather. They had a layer of fur that covered all parts of their bodies, ears that are far smaller than those of modern elephants, and a tail that was short to reduce heat loss and the chance of frostbite. They were definitely acclimated to an Iowa that was much colder than it is now. Woolly mammoths went extinct in Iowa about 10,000 years ago.

The Environmental Learning Center is open for visits on Monday through Saturday at varying hours. Call ahead to make sure the Environmental Learning Center will be open when you want to come at 641.673.9327.

Come to Oskaloosa to see Woolly and then stop at the Winery for a seated wine tasting, lunch, or maybe a dinner on selected Fridays and Saturdays.