If you live in the Roaring Fork Valley, by now you're aware of the amazing discoveries being made practically on a daily basis in Snowmass Village, but for my other readers around the world, let me catch you up to speed.
You've heard of the La Brea Tar Pits, the place in Los Angeles where hundreds of fossils have been found, right? Well, now we've got something in Colorado just like it, except for all the tar and the hundreds of fossils.
The Ziegler Reservoir site, which appears to have been a peat bog during the last Ice Age, has, however, produced the remains of at least five extinct animals, including mastodons, a Columbian mammoth, an ancient bison and, in perhaps the most stunning turn of events yet, a perfectly preserved specimen of an American ski bum, a creature that hasn't been seen near Aspen since Prada and Fendi opened stores in town.
While the mastodon, bison and mammoth remains are thought to be at least 12,800 years old, scientists believe the ski bum specimen is much more recent, according to lead researcher Dr. Cassius Abuzz, curator of paleontology at the American Skiing Hall of Fame.
"The most amazing thing about this specimen is that its apparel is still intact," said Dr. Abuzz. "Thus we've been able to conclusively determine that it is no more than 25 to 30 years old."
As evidence to back up his claims, Dr. Abuzz pointed out that the ski bum was found wearing red, white and blue I Ski glasses, Gates gloves, a day-glo CB jacket, stretch pants with padded knees and rear-entry Salomon ski boots. More tellingly, beneath its jacket and cotton turtleneck, the ski bum had on a T-shirt saying "Frankie Says Relax," which was only acceptable attire for a brief period in 1984.
A pair of Rossignol FP skis with GEZE bindings were found in the vicinity of the ski bum, but researchers cannot say for certain that the ski bum was the owner. Dr. Abuzz also admitted that his team can't rule out the possibility that the ski bum is a man named Cooter who disappeared from Crested Butte just last year, but he did consider that possibility unlikely.
"People from Crested Butte wouldn't be caught dead skiing at Snowmass," he said. "So unless the guy got lost in a storm and pulled a reverse Ken Torp, it's a safe bet it's not him."
As amazing as the discoveries at Ziegler Reservoir have been, however, they have not come without their fair share of controversy, as protesters from a group calling itself Leave All Mastodons Earthbound (LAME) have been picketing the site. When asked why, LAME President Lon Sharkin had this to say:
"Mastodons and mammoths were pretty much just big, hairy elephants. The fact that so many of them are being unearthed here indicates that this could be the fabled elephant burial grounds, and we don't think it's right to disturb such a sacred place."
Intrigued by Sharkin's claims, this columnist did a Google search for "elephant burial grounds" that returned an astounding 32,100 results. Nearly every one of the links that came up was to a site claiming there is no evidence to support the idea of an elephant burial ground, but that didn't seem to dissuade the members of LAME.
"Just because we haven't found it yet doesn't mean it doesn't exist," said Sharkin. "We haven't found Osama bin Laden yet, but he's certainly real."
Unable to argue with such logic, I was forced to admit that LAME might be right, bringing up the possibility, according to Sharkin, that disturbing the mastodon and mammoth remains could unleash a host of malevolent elephantine spirits, much like the disturbing of a Native American burial ground did in the movie Poltergeist.
"I heard a rumor that a mastodon ghost was already spotted looking for free appetizers at the Mountain Dragon," said Sharkin.
Employees at the Mountain Dragon emphatically denied such a claim, but just to be on the safe side, I think residents of Snowmass Village should take a few simple precautions.
If there are any trees near your house that could potentially reach in through the window and grab your children, cut them down. Likewise, if your kids have any clown dolls, throw them out before they strangle someone, and if you have a young daughter, by all means do not let her get sucked into your TV. Hiring a creepy dwarf woman to save her can get very expensive.
Todd Hartley calls dibs on the CB jacket and the rear-entry boots. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.