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Pairing butts, bikes and beds

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Horse among newest fossils

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. - Among the thousands of ancient bones now recovered from an ancient lakebed near Snowmass Village is that of a horse.

Of course, horses are by no means rare in North America now, but this horse existed somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 years ago. Later, they became extinct in North America, only to be reintroduced by Spaniards in the 15 th century.

Last week, curators from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science reported that their excavations had reached the bottom of the peat-filled lakebed.

The ancient lakebed was being scraped out last October for use as a reservoir, to ensure sufficient water supplies for new lodging and shopping being developed at Snowmass, when a bulldozer operator noticed a bone. It turned out to be a mastodon, one of many extinct species now recovered. Others include mammoths, and Jefferson's ground sloth. A complete skull of a sloth was about the size of a grizzly bear.

Kirk Johnson, chief curator at the museum has called it the best high-elevation fossil site in North America, if not the world.

Still unclear is why so many animals congregated at the lake. Putting together good theories will occupy several dozen scientists during the next two years as they return to their labs to date the bones, leaves and tree limbs found at the site.

Local police must be kept in loop

ASPEN, Colo. - The story about the cocaine drug bust in Aspen gets ever more interesting, with new evidence that the local sheriff attended a birthday party for one of the accused drug traffickers several weeks before the arrests.

Federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials have alleged that Aspen was the end-stop for a cocaine ring that operated out of Los Angeles and had connections to Mexican drug cartels. They claim that more than 200 kilograms were transported from LA to Aspen over the past 15 years. In May, they arrested six people from Aspen and Snowmass Village - but pointedly did not let the local cops know their intentions.

Why didn't the feds let the locals know of their plans? Because, according to the DEA team, both current Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and his predecessor, Bob Braudis, were pals with at least some of the defendants.

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