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Fort Wayne area mastodon skeleton unveiled in his new Indianapolis home

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Quick facts about Fred

*About 80 percent of the full skeleton was recovered in Fort Wayne.

*Fred weighed about 3 tons.

*The skull is about 250 pounds.

*The lower jaw weighs about 80 pounds.

*Each tusk weighs 100 pounds.

*Mounted, Fred is about 9 feet tall.

*Bone analysis through radiocarbon dating shows that Fred is more than 13,000 years -old.

Source: Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

How did he get his name? It's named for Fred Buesching, grandfather of Dan Buesching, who found one of the mastodon's 9-foot tusks in 1998 while he was digging peat moss on his family's farm — Buesching Peat Moss & Mulch — near Fort Wayne. Fred Buesching founded the family business.

Woolly mammoth v. mastodon: The latter are an older species. Scientists believe they originated in Africa 35 million years ago and entered North America about 15 million years ago. Both animals were prevalent during the Ice Age in Indiana. Though the mammoth was taller, the mastodon was a bulkier animal.

Want to see one locally? Indiana University-Purdue University has a bronze statue of a life-size mastodon. Science Central has a cast of Fred.

Friday, January 25, 2013 - 10:55 am

A former Fort Wayne area resident is in the spotlight in Indianapolis.

Fred the mastodon's skeleton, found in 1998 in Allen County on a family farm, was unveiled at a private event Thursday night in his new Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites home. Fred, who likely died 13,000 years ago, will be the star this fall of the museum's new exhibit, "Indiana's Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons."

In 1998 Dan Buesching was digging below the surface of a pond on his family company's 350-acre site in the 9100 block of West Cook Road when he hit historical pay dirt. Workers dug a little deeper and saw white teeth and realized it was part of a skull.

After a two-year dig by archeologists, 80 percent of the skeleton came together, and the reason why it died. Marked or missing bones indicate it was killed by another mastodon, then butchered for food. Ice-age humans often preserved meat by storing it under cool water.

Since then, Fred has had casts made of his old bones, which have been put on display. Now, he's all put back together and stands about 9 feet tall on a custom-made metal frame. The cost of the project is being covered by the LDI 100th Anniversary Celebration Cultural Partnership Gift Program and donors who purchased mastodon bones starting from $50 for small bones to the $20,000 skull, which was purchased by members of the Buesching family. Bones are still available for sale.

Fred's bones were donated to the museum in 2006.

Want to see a mastodon locally? Indiana University-Purdue University has a bronze statue of a life-size mastodon. Science Central has a cast of Fred.