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ix Serendipity. It describes perfectly the culmination of events that ultimately led to the discovery and investigation of the Lange/Ferguson site. The origin of the story can be traced back nearly six decades to an individual by the name of Les Ferguson. It was in 1960 that Ferguson, visiting a remote part of the Lange Ranch in the White River Badlands of South Dakota, happened across a relatively small, isolated butte from which a complete right femur of an adult mammoth was eroding. As a substantial portion of the bone was already exposed, and as Ferguson maintained a strong interest in antiquity, he collected the specimen and brought it to his home; there it would stay for the next 20 years. In August 1980, while conducting a large-scale archaeological investigation of the nearby Cheyenne River valley, I discovered that Ferguson, who was then president of the board of directors of the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota, was an avid artifact collector and possessed a sizable collection from the Lange Ranch and other localities near the Cheyenne Valley . Ferguson agreed to show me his collection of artifacts, and while examining them, I was struck by the quantity of Paleo-Indian artifacts, including Clovis points, acquired from near the ranch. Aware of his affiliation with the mammoth site, I offhandedly asked whether he had ever discovered any mammoth remains while collecting. He responded by showing me the mammoth femur and recounting the details surrounding its discovery 20 years prior. I quickly accepted an offer to visit the site of the find on the following morning and, soon after arrival there, observed additional mammoth remains eroding from the same butte. The Lange family consented to allow formal test excavations at the site, and by September, less than one month after my initial visit, excavations at Lange/ Ferguson were initiated. The rest, as may be said, is (pre) history. To greater or lesser degrees through the years, the Lange/Ferguson site has held a place of prominence in both my personal and professional life. My intentions to publish a manuscript on the site shortly after receiving my PhD in 1985 were nothing short of “the best.” Of course, over the ensuing three-plus decades, I grew acutely aware that those intentions were consistently losing ground to the everyday happenings of life. Though I had hoped to publish the manuscript many years prior, its delay has, in various respects, proven to be a boon. In the more than 30 years that have since passed, our collective knowledge in the fields of early Paleo-Indian research, geomorphology , paleoenvironmental reconstruction, absolute dating, and taphonomy has expanded significantly. As a result, other researchers have since had the opportunity to conduct supplemental investigations at Lange/Ferguson that greatly enhance and clarify some of the most impor­ tant findings from the site. The work of these individuals, together with the original findings from work at the site in the mid-1980s, forms the content of this book. The past 30-plus years have seen the discovery of numerous additional Clovis and potentially pre-Clovis sites in North America, and our collective database of these earliest sites continues to expand. This book on the Lange/Ferguson site, however, is not a detailed evaluation of the site relative to other North American early human sites, nor is it intended to be an in-depth exploration into the validity of other Clovis and potential pre-Clovis mammoth sites in the New World archaeological record (though, to be sure, findings from the site do have implications that bear directly upon these broader issues). The intentions of this book are decidedly more modest. The ultimate hope is to offer readers a rare glimpse into a singular moment in prehistory that captures human interaction with extinct animals during a rapidly changing preface x Preface world; a world for which there is no modern comparison . The opportunity to reconstruct events at the Lange/ Ferguson site is all the more remarkable in light of the site’s impeccable preservation within the highly erodible badlands landscape and the happenstance surrounding its initial discovery. Serendipity indeed! —L. Adrien Hannus ...


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