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Friday, March 25, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Construction crew unearths apparent mammoth bones near Selah

The Associated Press

SELAH, Yakima County — A construction crew has unearthed what appear to be mammoth bones at least 10,000 years old north of this central Washington town and northeast of Yakima, the company owner says.

Gary Fife of Selah said he and his crew were on lunch while building a private road about three weeks ago when he noticed some large bones protruding from an embankment near where they had been digging.

At the request of the property owner, an archaeologist from Seattle made some initial tests which indicated the bones probably belong to a species of mammoth, Fife said.

A contractor for more than three decades, he would not reveal the precise location of the dig but said a team of archaeologists is expected to review the discovery in the next couple weeks.

"You might dig up some car hoods, old bottles, certain areas where somebody had buried their dog, but I've never come across anything like this. It's a pretty interesting and exciting find for me," Fife said. "This is probably the closest thing to a treasure chest I have ever dug up."

Remains of mammoths, elephant-like creatures that went extinct after the last ice age about 9,000 years ago, have been found elsewhere in the Yakima area.

In 2001 excavators encountered a mammoth tusk while digging a parking lot in Moxee, east of Yakima. The dig was closed the next summer after scientists decided there was little chance of finding more remains.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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