Texas Tech University

At the Regional Sites

Waco Biology Students Visit Mammoth Site and More

by Kelly Podzemny

In July, the Waco Mammoth Site became the Waco Mammoth National Monument when President Barack Obama signed an executive order to incorporate the mammoth site into the national park system. With the order come federal funds to provide a National Park Service ranger on site, signs and research money.

Earlier this year, students at Texas Tech University Higher Education Teaching Site at Waco (TTU at Waco) toured the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Dr. Stephanie Lockwood's Organic Evolution class. Students toured the dig shelter and surrounding area and viewed the bones of 19 Columbian mammoths that have been excavated at the site since the 1970's. It's believed that approximately 65,000 years ago, rapidly rising waters from the Bosque River flooded the site where a nursery herd was trapped and drowned.

The Organic Evolution class focuses on the processes by which organisms change over time. Asian elephants are the closest living relatives of the extinct Columbian mammoths and specimens of both can be found in Waco. The Cameron Park Zoo is home to two living African elephants named Tembo and Tanya.

"Waco offers students the chance to see both organisms spanning 65,000 years worth of evolution only a 10-minute drive apart," TTU at Waco Biology Professor Stephanie Lockwood said. "The Waco Mammoth Site tour was specifically designed for our class and focused on how modern day elephants evolved from mammoths found at the site. It was a great experience that demonstrated many of the concepts discussed in class."

Field trips like the one to the Waco Mammoth National Monument are a frequent experience for Biology majors at TTU at Waco. In the spring semester the Parasitology class collected insects along the Bosque River, the Zoology class went electroshock fishing, and many were able to observe monarch butterflies passing through Waco as they migrated from Canada back down to Mexico.

"Our students are taking advantage of opportunities that are unique to Waco," Director of TTU at Waco Lewis Snell said. "We are fortunate to have professors like Dr. Lockwood to offer such experiences."


Texas Tech University offers the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology through the University Center at McLennan Community College in Waco. Students complete core curriculum and lower level requirements through MCC, and upper level coursework through Texas Tech either in face-to-face classes taught on MCC's campus or online. Students are prepared for careers in biological research or to continue their education toward medical, pharmacy, veterinarian, or physical therapy school.

Waco Mammoth
Waco Mammoth
Waco Mammoth

TTU at Waco students toured the excavation site of 65,000-year-old mammoths in April.