Curators collected 34 mammoths in the initial excavations of the La Brea tar pits from 1906 to 1914. "But they were all disarticulated bones, jumbled together," said paleontologist Christopher A. Shaw, collections manager at the Page. Mammoths on display at the museum are assembled from the bones of many animals.
Zed's tusks also are nearly intact -- another rarity since they are made of dentin, which is much more fragile than bones.
Zed's skeleton is now being cleaned in the museum's "fish bowl" preparation room, and the team of paleontologists and volunteers has so far completed only his jawbone and some vertebrae. All researchers know so far is that he stood about 10 feet tall at the hip and was 47 to 49 years old. Mammoths normally lived to about 60, so Zed died prematurely.
Curators have found three broken ribs that were healed before his death. He probably got them from fighting with other male mammoths, "or he was just clumsy as hell," said Shelley M. Cox, who is supervising the cleaning.