A 76-year-old Kenosha County man in whose cornfield the skeleton of a mammoth believed to be about 12,500 years old was dug up in 1994 is interested in selling it, and officials of the Milwaukee Public Museum are interested in it.
"I'm just looking for some funds for my grandkids' college," John Hebior said the possible sale of the skeleton now in 15 large wooden crates and four plastic tubs in the basement of his farmhouse five miles west of Somers.
Milwaukee Public Museum president Dan Finley said the Hebior mammoth would look great standing in the atrium of the natural history museum.
If all works well, a fiberglass replica of the skeleton would be on display while the actual skeleton would be kept off display for further research.
"I want something jaw-dropping" to greet visitors, Finley said. "We very much would like to acquire the actual bones."
Experts have suggested the bones could be worth from between $100,000 to $500,000.
Museum officials are seeking a corporate sponsor for the Hebior purchase, Finley said.
"I'd like to see it go there," Hebior said of the Milwaukee museum. "It's got a lot of history" in the area.
Hebior said an effort to sell the bones several years ago failed because the bids that came in were too low.
A number of Siberian mammoth skeletons sold after the fall of the Soviet Union might have suppressed the market, said Dan Joyce, senior curator of the Kenosha Public Museum.
Marquette University archaeologist David Overstreet said the Hebior skeleton, which is nearly 90 percent complete, still might have great value.
"It's such a priceless thing," said Overstreet, who supervised the mammoth's excavation.
The Hebior mammoth was discovered after bones from a different mammoth at a neighboring farm were being excavated during the 1990s and the Hebior family showed researchers a large mammoth-like bone that had been found years earlier at their farm.
That led researchers to dig at Hebior's farm and discover what is now known as the Hebior mammoth.