Best of Wyoming
2:02 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

The Tate Geological Museum - Casper

The Tate Geological Museum was founded in 1980 through a gift from Marion and Inez Tate. It was originally designated as the Tate Earth Science Center and Mineralogical Museum. Because ‘geological' encompasses earth science, mineralogy and paleontology, the name was changed to the Tate Geological Museum in 2001.

Located on the Casper College campus, the museum is a great resource for the community. Many local schools and groups come to the museum to add to their students’ learning experience.

One of a very small number of geology and paleontology museums in Wyoming, the Tate houses a collection of over 3,000 fossil and mineral specimens. Museum staff are happy to answer questions, help identify items visitors bring in, and make everyone’s visit to the museum an enjoyable experience. The Tate should be on anyone's list of 'must see sites' when traveling through Wyoming.

Dee the Mammoth and Pleistocene Exhibit

Dee the Mammoth is an 11,600 year-old Columbian Mammoth who lived in the American West during the Pleistocene, or Ice Age. Sixty-five to 70 years old when he died, Dee is unique in both his advanced age and his completeness.

Dee was discovered in 2006 by a backhoe operator who was preparing an oil well pad site north of Glenrock, Wyo. The operator, Dee Zimmerscheid, knew that he had hit something big when several large white bones were churned up from under his machine. He called in his site supervisor, Bill Allen, and together they decided that it was time to call in the landowners and paleontology experts.

It was determined that the bones were from a mammoth and that more of the huge mammal was probably located below the surface. Kent Sundell, Ph.D. and Casper College geology instructor, recommended that the oil well be moved over about 100 feet, and the oil companies that were involved agreed. Additionally, the Allemand/Byrd family who owned the land and thus the bones, generously donated the skeleton to the Tate Geological Museum.

During three of the next four summers, over 300 mammoth bones were recovered from the site. After recovery, the bones were transported to the Tate’s lab to be cleaned and cataloged. Many of the bones were complete and identifiable, making the staff and volunteer’s jobs in the lab easier. The skeletons’ completeness enabled Black Hills Institute of Geologic Research to reassemble and mount the mammoth for display in the Tate, where it can be seen today.

The Pleistocene Exhibit, featuring Dee, informs visitors about Wyoming’s Pleistocene environment, introduces a few of Dee’s contemporaries, and discusses the differences and similarities between mammoths, mastodons, and elephants. Visitors can play the PSI (Pleisto-Scene Investigation) game to determine, on their own, how Dee died and follow the Timeline of Discovery for a quick view of the events that led up to and occurred after the skeleton’s discovery. Visitors can also watch a video on mammoths and look at photos and home videos from the field as they learn about the life and times of Dee the Mammoth.

The Walk Through Time Exhibit

The Walk Through Time, located along the back wall of the museum, takes visitors back through time from the Holocene hunter and gatherers of North America to the formation of the earth. Along the way there are several drawers, located within the display cabinets, with touch samples to allow visitors the opportunity to interact with the fossils as they move back through time. Visitors will find plant fossils, a T.rex tooth, trilobites, and much more along the way.

To find out more about the Tate Museum and its exhibits, visit http://www.caspercollege.edu/tate/.

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