Thursday, 3 April 2014

#2014BloggerChallenge - A Day in Waco, in Pictures!

Hey y'all!

Today's post is another abnormal entry, courtesy of the #2014BloggerChallenge.  Gaby has challenged us this week to do a "Week/Day in Pictures" and since Mr. Faff and I recently returned from visiting my homeland, I thought I would share one of our days of adventure.

Essentially, this is the blogger version of "wanna see my vacation pictures?" - only I promise not to show you 14,874 shots of the same majestic tree in sunset lighting.  Seriously, I promise.

Instead, I'd like to give you a virtual tour of the day we spent in nearby Waco, Texas, which most people have only ever heard of as the home of Dr. Pepper and the place where David Koresh got bonfired, even though that wasn't actually in Waco but rather in Mount Carmel about 15 miles away, except that the news outlets decided it sounded crazier to say Waco and pronounce it wrong but anyway I am off-topic again and I apologize.

Still with me?  Man, you really are a sucker for punishment.  Okay, well, you can't say you weren't warned.

So we took a roadtrip to Waco to visit two very cool sites - the Waco Mammoth Site and the Cameron Park Zoo, neither of which we'd ever been to before.

We started our adventure at the Waco Mammoth Site.

A few years ago, an excavation site of more than 30 years was made open to the public, set over a ravine between the Bosque and Brazos Rivers in Waco.  Essentially, about 65,000 years ago, a herd of ginormous Colombian mammoths were trapped in a swift river flood and drowned.  The first skeletal pieces were found by a couple of boys in the late 70s, and over time they discovered 16 massive skeletons of the herd, as well as the remains of an American camel, and evidence of a later flood event involving a juvenile sabre-toothed tiger and some unidentified herd animal, and another 3 mammoths from a third flooding event.  The best part is that there's probably a LOT more left to excavate, but the site is currently raising funds to be able to bring in an on-site lab so they can continue digging up pre-historic critters.

Click on the thumbnail to see the full-sized image and my notes where needed.

Waco Mammoth Site Entrance Waco Mammoth Site Visitors Center Waco Mammoth Site Visitors Center Mural Waco Mammoth Site Trail Our tour guide Eva is made of awesome. The mark on this pole shows the shoulder height of a Columbian mammoth, a larger and more southern cousin of the Wooly mammoth. This enclosure is humidity and temperature controlled to help preserve the skeletons which are not actually old enough to be completely fossilized. This is the river basin where the first mammoth bone was found, leading to the discovery of a herd of at least 19 other mammoths who died in the same event. As best as possible, I tried to get the entirety of the enclosure in this shot, with markings where each of the mammoths inside are located Waco Mammoth Site Here Eva stands in front of a life-sized painting of Mammoth Q, drawn from actual measurements of the bones. Mammoth Q is an adult male who appears to have been stuck in the mud, and possibly pushed forward by rushing flood waters, rendering him unable to escape and eventually drowning him. Partial remains of Mammoth S, a female, highlighting the size of the teeth which are about as large as an adult human's foot. Juvenile Mammoth T, who was actually found in the tusks of the adult male.  How he came to be in that location is the topic of much speculation. A closer-up of Mammoth Q, showing fully articulated ribs and legs.  Because the upper crown of the skull is the most fragile part of a Mammoth's head, over time the pressure from sedimentary layers eventually demolished it, but fragments can be seen in the cavity. Mammoth W, believed to be the mother of the juvenile mammoth T. Mammoth W's right tusk has been removed for further study, and because it is so fragile, the left tusk has been left buried until an on-site lab can be built. This mural spans the front wall of the excavation site, honoring the nursing herd whose remains were found outside of the enclosure. This camel was found in the same layer of earth as the original herd, and was believed to be traveling with them.  Scientists believe the mammoths and camels had a symbiotic relationship, wherein the camels provided a sharper eye for danger in exchange for the safety of the herd and better food and water choices.  Obviously none of them were able to prevent this particular event from taking them all. An unidentified ribcage was found near the tooth of a very juvenile saber-toothed tiger.  This tooth was only exposed about the size of a dime beyond the gumline (that's about the size of a 5p for you Brits), making it probably only 3-6 months old.  Further excavation will hopefully yield more information about this particular event, possibly including more remains from the prey animal, the cub, and/or its mother. A closer look at the placard marking the juvenile tiger's tooth and comparison to a dime coin. Mammoth J is believed to have been the matriarch of the large nursing herd, not associated with Mammoths Q, T, and W.  At some point one of her tusks was damaged and she continued to use it, as evidenced by it being smoothed out. In this shot you can also see that Mammoth J's right tusk was damaged as well, but it was sometime shortly before death, as evidenced by its still-jagged edge. An example of an excavation plaster jacket, in which remains are protected by the same materials doctors use today to create casts for broken human limbs, and the identifying markings placed on each jacket.

After a very informative 45 minute tour of the site, we decided to take a lunch break, and then headed to the Cameron Park Zoo.

You all know what a zoo is, so I won't bother with a lengthy explanation.  As before, click on the thumbnail to see the full picture and description.

Cameron Park Zoo Cameron Park Zoo Entrance
Cameron Park Zoo White-handed Gibbon Cameron Park Zoo Bald Eagles
Cameron Park Zoo Green-Winged Macaw
Cameron Park Zoo Galapagos Tortoise Cameron Park Zoo Galapagos Tortoise
Cameron Park Zoo Sun Conures Cameron Park Zoo Capybara
Cameron Park Zoo Squirrel Monkey Cameron Park Zoo Marine Aquarium
Cameron Park Zoo Lionfish Cameron Park Zoo Cowfish - and holy COWFISH was he fast!  This was the closest I could get to a focused picture!
Cameron Park Zoo Cougar Cameron Park Zoo Cougar - yawning.
Cameron Park Zoo River Otter
Cameron Park Zoo Black Bear Cameron Park Zoo Black Bear - tuckered out.
Cameron Park Zoo Jaguar Cameron Park Zoo Jaguar - yawning.  Apparently I make zoo animals sleepy?
Cameron Park Zoo Coyote - again... sleepy animals.
Cameron Park Zoo Great Horned Owl Cameron Park Zoo Barn Owls
Cameron Park Zoo Bison Cameron Park Zoo White-tail deer and turkey
Cameron Park Zoo Cardinal - being cheekily close to us at the picnic tables. Cameron Park Zoo Dik Dik - he's just so damned cute!  I want one!
Cameron Park Zoo Kori Bustard Cameron Park Zoo White Rhinocerus
Cameron Park Zoo African Elephant Cameron Park Zoo Meer Kat
Cameron Park Zoo Lions Cameron Park Zoo Sumatran Tiger
Cameron Park Zoo Orangutan Cameron Park Zoo Orangutan

Hope you enjoyed this "Day in Photos", aka "Hey look at some of my vacation pictures".  If you like this sort of post, be sure to check out the other #2014BloggerChallenge Photo posts as listed on AnotherGirlyBlg.


  1. I lovr this post and ooooh at the mammoth site I'd really like to see that, hope you had a lovely time

    1. Thank you! It was pretty amazing - really hoping to go back and visit in a few years after they're able to continue excavating the site and see what else turns up! It's a fascinating place, for sure.

  2. oooh loving all the animals!!


  3. What a great trip! I also featured my holiday in pictures for my post, it was such great timing. See u around ;)

    1. Kind of funny how it turned out, isn't it? I love it when synchronicity happens.


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