Tags: boy | finds | fossil | stegomastodon | new mexico

Boy Finds Million-Year-Old Fossil in New Mexico Desert

Image: Boy Finds Million-Year-Old Fossil in New Mexico Desert

Jude Sparks poses with the jawbone of a stegamastodon, an ancient ancestor of the elephant, that he discovered while hiking in the desert in Las Cruces with his family. (Peter Houde/NMSU)

By    |   Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 04:09 PM

A 9-year-old boy tripped and discovered a rare fossil more than a million years old while walking with his family in the desert in New Mexico.

Jude Sparks was running to hide from his brothers during a family walk near Las Cruces when he fell face-to-face with the fossil, which looked like a jaw, The New York Times reported. He thought it looked unusual and showed it to his parents.

“I just knew it was not something that you usually find,” he said, the NYT reported.

His parents reached out to New Mexico State University biology professor Peter Houde, who recognized it as the remains of a stegomastodon, an ancient relative of elephants and mammoths.

“This is really very unusual to find,” said Houde, who finally was able to excavate the skull in May after putting a team together and finding funding, the NYT reported.

Often, the remains are too delicate to withstand erosion and disintegrate, and stegomastadon fossils are found much less frequently than mammoths for unknown reasons, National Geographic reported.

Houde is hoping to display the fossil at NMSU, saying that its remote location didn’t offer many opportunities for such exhibits.

Scientists believe stegomastodons became extinct around a million years ago due to climate change or the arrival of mammoths in the area.

“They existed during a time when it was wetter and cooler,” Houde said, National Geographic reported.

It was only the second complete stegomastodon skull found in New Mexico. The jawbone weighed 120 pounds and the entire skull weighed nearly a ton, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

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A 9-year-old boy tripped and discovered a rare fossil more than a million years old while walking with his family in the desert in New Mexico.
boy, finds, fossil, stegomastodon, new mexico
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2017-09-19
Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 04:09 PM
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