KIOWA COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas museum located in Kiowa County is now home to what some consider an important and possibly history-altering find; a complete lower leg bone of a mammoth.
“I have never excavated a total complete mammoth bone, and so that to me was kind of a high thing,” said Dr. Jerry Simmons, Vice President and Curator of the Heart of America Science Resource Center.
Simmons, better known as DocRock, said he was on a walk one December day in Kiowa County when he approached an area where he had recently found part of a mammoth femur. That’s when he noticed something protruding from the ground. He quickly enlisted the help of friends Taylor and Bill Jo Rhone of Hopewell, Kansas, for the excavation.
“Besides seeing and being amazed by the newly excavated complete bone, we were equally if not more shocked to see how well preserved the internal compact bone structure was and the incredible home marrow spongy structure. It was still pristine and totally visible,” Simmons said.
The three, along with a couple of others, then worked to restore the tibia bone, stretching 21 inches and weighing 24.1 pounds, along with other mammoth bones that had come from the general area in the last four years.
Simmons said the bone’s lightweight indicates the bone was not very fossilized, meaning it may not have been in the ground as long as people might think.
Who is DocRock?
Simmons, a once agnostic scientist and a shy man, holds a doctorate in multi-cultural childhood science education from the University of New Mexico. The former science teacher has a deep love for natural sciences and God.
“I have always been picking up rocks or digging in dirt. I was raised on a ranch and had an ample opportunity to do that after I do my work, my chores, regardless of what it was, I would go out and collect rocks, sort, take things apart,” he said.
About 40 years ago, Simmons found himself inside a New Mexico church. That’s where he asked for God’s love to come into his heart. Several years later, he found his passion in life; a passion for spreading the good news and scientific news to the younger generation.
A Hands-on, Working Museum
In 2014, Simmons opened the Heart of America Science Resource Center, a science learning center that provides biblical-based science education through teaching, hands-on activities, experiences in nature, and a working museum.
“Everything is hands-on to encourage them and look at it like we said from a different perspective too, to be critical thinkers,” he said. “We go out and dig. We get dirty. We excavate. You know we have a great time.”
The museum boasts a little bit of everything. There is a mineral collection, rock cutting and polishing stations, dinosaur bones, mammoth tusks and the newly excavated mammoth leg.
The center is open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May 4 to September. It is also open by appointment.