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Prey meets predator in museum's new display

The ancient hunter aims another spear at the mammoth.

Sun Advocate associate editor

The Columbian mammoth is no longer standing placidly at the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum.

He's bellowing with pain from a spear in the ribs as his killer, a Paleoindian, gets ready to hurl another one from an atlatl. The duel to the death takes place on a field of flowers and native grasses, much as the land appeared 12,000 years ago at the top of Huntington Canyon.

"The mammoth was always an informative display. Now it's a story," commented museum spokesperson Christine Trease.

Museum director Kenneth Carpenter had told the Sun Advocate when he was hired last year that his objective was to heighten the involvement and experience of visitors by making the displays more dramatic.

The mammoth display is another step in that direction.It was Carpenter who got the model of the skeleton (it is not real human remains) and mounted it in an attack pose.

He explained Wednesday that the attention to detail involved the spearheads, which are replicas of those in the museum's archaeology collection.

Education director Lloyd Logan and Utah Friends of Paleontology volunteer Ralph Escamilla constructed the base and organized the native plants in the diorama.

During the past year, the museum has added a living fossils exhibit starring an alligator and soft-shelled turtle. (They've outgrown their mouse diet and now dine on rats, according to Trease.)

It has also involved its archaeology and paleontology preparators in displays of their own, where visitors can watch them work and ask them questions.

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