Thursday, July 20, 2017
Discovered! Stegomastodon Fossil
Researchers have their hands on a rare fossil from the Pleistocene era thanks to a 10-year-old's clumsiness.
Jude Sparks said he literally fell on the 1.2-million-year-old skull of a stegomastodon -- a massive prehistoric creature with tusks like an elephant -- while on a hike with his parents on the desert outskirts of his neighborhood in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
"I was running farther up and I tripped on part of the tusk," Sparks said in a statement from New Mexico State University, where researchers are studying the find. "My face landed next to the bottom jaw. I looked farther up and there was another tusk."
The stegomastodon is one of three species of proboscideans that inhabited the ancient Rio Grande Valley, and is believed to be an ancestor to modern-day elephants.
The fossil was found on private land, and it took several months to get permission to excavate from the property owner. In New Mexico, the law stipulates that vertebrate fossils found on private land belong to the landowner. Here, the property owner asked that the precise site remain confidential, according to the university.
The Sparks family eventually joined with Houde and his students to excavate the skull, a process that took one week.
The large skull is deceptively delicate, and the only thing holding it together was the sediment around it, Houde said.
The team applied chemical hardeners to the fossil, mimicking the bone strength provided by protein, to keep it intact. Once dug from the ground, the fossil was coated in plaster and supported by wood braces for transport to New Mexico State University's Vertebrate Museum, where it now lives.
"We have the unique opportunity to really compare what the animal looks like [on] a much larger complete scale and compare it with others," Houde told CBS Albuquerque affiliate KRQE, adding that it's extremely rare to find a nearly intact skull of a mammal dating back to the Ice Age.
The process to reconstruct the skull, jaw and tusks is likely to take years to complete, Houde said.
"I have every hope and expectation that this specimen will ultimately end up on exhibit and this little boy will be able to show his friends and even his own children, look what I found right here in Las Cruces," he said.
Most Popular Posts This Month
He's calling for Board President Brad Rice and member Sheri Allen to resign... LEWISTON, ID - Lewiston School Board members are sta...
LEWISTON/ CLARKSTON-A batch of light showers is spreading into the Inland NorthWest. In Lewiston & Clarkston, temperatures are now ne...
Shady Business: Are there jagged mountain ranges on the moon?...or Spiky shadows Early depictions of the moon took cues for telescopic o...
by Michelle Crouch The Ghostbusters Dinosaur Scientists in Toronto identified a new species of dinosaur and named it Zuul, after th...
Good News! The latest track maps from the National Hurricane Center steer the 3rd hurricane in as many weeks away from land. Giving the tro...
TIME PHASE 9:12 am Partial Eclipse begins – Moon touches Sun’s edge 10:27 am Max Eclipse – Moon is closest t...
by Chris Mills © Provided by BGR If yo...
Vast underwater Roman ruins have been discovered off northeast Tunisia, apparently confirming a theory that the city of Neapolis was partly ...
Researchers have their hands on a rare fossil from the Pleistocene era thanks to a 10-year-old's clumsiness. Jude Sparks said he lite...
Later this month, the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse , a rare occurrence, and most Americans are interested in possibly trying ...