5 Things You May Not Know about Stompy the Mastodon
1. He’s not a Woolly Mammoth
Stompy is a mastodon, but what’s the difference? For starters mastodon tusks were less curved than a mammoth's. Mastodon teeth were different from a mammoth’s as well. Why was that? Because Mastodons lived in swampy areas and chewed on branches and shrubs. Mammoths grazed on grasses in open plains. You can see the difference between the two species teeth just behind Stompy in the exhibit!
Stompy is covered in 1,500 cow tails! The cow tails were washed, bleached, and colored before being adhered to his body. This was done by the artist to achieve the look of shaggy curly hair which would’ve helped him stay warm at the end of the last Ice Age.
Photo taken in 1983 right after the diorama was installed for the new museum
3. He sheds… so please don’t pet the mastodon
Stompy is now 37 years old! Over the years he lost some of his hair but who wouldn’t after entertaining the masses for three decades? During the recent renovation museum diorama specialists came in to give Stompy an little upgrade. He was cleaned and even got some new hair additions using the same technique that was used in 1983.
We’d love for Stompy to stick around another 30 years so please don’t pet him. He’s a museum favorite and we want to keep him looking shaggy for a long time. The more exposure he gets to human touch the more he will deteriorate just like any other artifact in the museum.
4. He was made in Indiana
When the museum started to plan for their brand new building in 1982, they also began to plan for a new large-scale exhibit about the history of Northeastern Wisconsin. Part of that story was to be told with a diorama of the Late Pleistocene Period by diorama artists Pat and Theresa Gulley of Williamsport, IN. The artists modeled Stompy from an elephant at the Indianapolis Zoo. Stompy was the first piece to be installed in the On the Edge of the Inland Sea.
Photo of curator Dennis Jacobs preparing Stompy for the opening of "On the Edge of the Inland Sea"
5. He’s only 3/4th the size he should be
Due to size constraints in the exhibit the entire diorama is made at 3/4th size, including the Paleo-Indian hunters. Imagine Stompy and the hunters just a little bigger next time you go through the Ice Cave!
Bonus Fact: Did you know the crouching hunter wasn’t originally behind Stompy? He was first installed on the ledge directly across from Stompy.
Next time you venture through our Ice Cave we hope you’ll take a second to say hi to Stompy, maybe snap a picture with him and consider how he came to be here at the Neville!