For the second time in a couple months I have had the good fortune of attending a dinner where there was an incredible individual who shared his experiences, some of which most of us would never think is possible.
Friday night, at the Dino Feast on the CEU campus, Dr. Larry Agenbroad kept the large audience on the edge of their seats as he showed a slide presentation about his ordeals in northern Siberia and the discovery of the Jarkov mammoth and his important part in both the investigation of the speciman, but also in the preservation of it.
Agenbroad was the type of speaker who remembered incredible details and was able to share these with the audience.
Each year the museum sponsors the feast as one of its fund-raisers. This year is the fifteenth anniversary of the discovery of the Columbian Mammoth in Huntington Canyon and is special because it marks the beginning of the museum's preparation for the construction of an additional building.
Agenbroad has been the principal investigator at the mammoth site in Hot Springs, South Dakota for 28 years. He has extensive experience in biometcric analysis and his speech, "Out of the Ice: Recovery of a Siberian Mammoth." He has studied and taught extensively at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for many years.
I had intended on snapping a couple pictures and getting on with the evening but the more I sat viewing the slides and listening to Dr. Agenbroad, the more I became engrossed in his project and experiences. The speech brought back a few brief reminders of my summer working in Russia.
I remember coming out of a theatre in St. Petersburg at midnight and walking into what seemed to be complete daylight. Dr. Agenbroad had just the opposite experience working in Siberia in the dead of winter, where it is totally dark for six to eight months of the year. But there were also many differences, in the remote native village he worked out of, four hours north of the Arctic Circle.
His adventure included the use of reindeer and how these small-framed animals with powerful hooves dig through the snow for food. The reindeer are used in teams to transport village dwellers from one location to another.
Just working in the frigid 35 degrees below zero and trying to stay warm and nourished was a challenge in itself. Once the mammoth team removed the nine foot tusks from the site the next task was finding the large mammoth buried far below the frozen tundra. They even found remnants of the mammoths's hair. The scientists decided to cut the mammoth out in a large block. At first they spent days and days digging by hand and later a generator was brought in to assist in the digging.
The Siberian mammoth is estimated at 23,000 years old, while the local Huntington mammoth is believed to be only 11,000 years old.
Accounts of their work, the hunting trips, and the people in the village were all fascinating. It was one of the fastest hours I ever spent and one of the most enjoyable.
Castle country is incredibly fortunate to house our world-class museum. And whenever we have the opportunity to bring in a speaker of Agenbroad's statue we can all be proud of the efforts our museum is making to bring that research to us.