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.