Exhumation of a Mastodon by Charles Willson Peale, 1801.
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Oil on canvas of the Exhumation of a Mastodon, by Charles Willson Peale.

Credit: The Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland

Charles Willson Peale's 1801 excavation of a mastodon skeleton on a Hudson Valley farm drew international attention. Convinced that "the movements of nature are in never ending circles," President Thomas Jefferson expected Lewis and Clark to find mastodons and other extinct animals still living in the American west.

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