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Fossil found in the Sangamon River by a Springfield family now on display at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield - ISM Springfield

  Fossil found in the Sangamon River by a Springfield family now on display at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield   

Fossil found in the Sangamon River by a Springfield family now on display at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield

This summer's extreme drought led to a rare discovery of a vertebra from an extinct Harlan’s muskox, which is now on display in the lobby of the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. Tony Blisset of Springfield discovered the vertebra on July 29 while wading in chin-deep water in the Sangamon River during a family outing at Riverside Park. The next day Tony and his family (Bridgette, Gavin, and Jon) brought the bone to the Museum's Research and Collections Center for identification. Museum paleontologists Drs. Jeffrey Saunders and Chris Widga recognized it as a neck vertebra from a large head-butting mammal. Comparison to other fossils revealed it to be from the extinct Harlan's muskox. The vertebra is on display along with additional muskox fossils from the Museum's collections. A fleshed out reconstruction of Harlan's muskox is part of the Pleistocene forest-tundra diorama in the Changes exhibition. The exhibit can be viewed during regular Museum hours: 8:30 a.m.—5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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