Released March 9, 2018

State museum staff to dig for Ice Age animals at Indiana Caverns in April


Hannah Kiefer
Director of Communication
[email protected]
(317) 431-5448

CORYDON (March 8, 2018) – Digs for prehistoric animals aren’t just happening in the American Great Plains. This April, a dig for Ice Age skeletons will take place right here in Indiana – and the public will be able to watch the action.

A team of four Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites staff will be traveling to Indiana Caverns in southern Indiana to embark on a dig starting April 6 and running for several days, depending on the amount of material discovered.

During those days, visitors will be able to get up close to see the screening of sediments to check for bones on an observation platform, as well as see the work happening at the dig site below. Buckets of sediment and bones will be pulled up to the platform from the dig area, so visitors will be able to see in real-time what the team discovers during the dig.

“Our curators at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites frequently conduct groundbreaking fieldwork around the state,” said Cathy Ferree, president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. “This is an incredible opportunity for the public to actually see the work that we do, and be witness to the discovery process.”

Museum staff members conducted a dig in the caverns previously in 2014, and during that dig they discovered peccary skeletons – a pig-like mammal – and they encountered about five times more bone than what they’d initially anticipated.

“Indiana Caverns contains an extensive bone yard of buried Ice Age animals, and will likely be the place for the discovery of new and rare Ice Age remains in the region,” said Ron Richards, senior research curator of paleobiology at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.

During the dig this time around, Richards said they’re confident they’ll recover many more peccary remains, and that the team will also be sieving the sediments for small animals that can indicate the environmental conditions at the time when the bones were deposited in the cavern. The team could potentially even find bones from other animals, such as dire wolves.

Staff at Indiana Caverns said they’re thrilled to offer this opportunity for their visitors.

“Indiana Caverns is very excited to once again partner with the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites,” Rob Houchens, partner at Indiana Caverns, said. “Our partnership shows how public expertise and private resources can work together for the greater good of scientific discovery. This event is a rare opportunity of discovering history – and right in our own backyard.”


TV crews and reporters can receive direct access to the dig upon request, for filming or photography purposes. Please contact Hannah Kiefer at [email protected] or 317-431-5448 to schedule an appointment time.

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The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is located in White River State Park in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. It is Indiana’s museum for science, art and culture, offering a place where you can celebrate, investigate, remember, learn and take pride in Indiana’s story in the context of the broader world. Even the building is a showcase of the best Indiana has to offer in architecture, materials and sculpture. Easy and convenient parking is available in the attached underground garage.