Boy Finds Million Year Old Fossil In New Mexico

Audrey Hill
July 22, 2017

While Jude and his two brothers were testing their walkie-talkies, the 10-year old boy tripped over what appears to be a darkened cow skull.

Aged 10, Sparks stumbled only to make the remarkable discovery in the paleontological world.

The Stegomastodon were part of the animal family Gomphotheres, the prehistoric ancestors of mammoths and elephants. When sediment is removed from these specimens, they "fall apart immediately and literally fall into tiny, tiny bits", Houde said in the statement.

"As you can imagine, when people find out about these things, they might be tempted to go out there and see what they might find themselves and tear up the land or they might hurt themselves", Houde said, according to the university's website.

Jude said that he went through a phase - between the ages of 5 and 8, to be exact - when dinosaurs and fossils excited him.

Jude Sparks was hiking the rugged New Mexico desert some five miles east of Las Cruces by the majestic Organ Mountains in November with his parents Kyle and Michelle and brothers, Hunter, 8, and Rhett, 5.

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"My face landed next to the bottom jaw".

"I was running farther up and I tripped on part of the tusk", Jude told the New Mexican State News Center.

The family contacted New Mexico State University professor Peter Houde, and he and a team from the university spent a week digging up the skull in May after getting permission from the landowner. He identified the fossil as the remains of a Stegomastodon skull, a creature that existed in the last few million years.

"Fossil bones from the same animal are rarely found together in our area", Houde wrote. The Sparks family was also invited to the excavation. Houde told National Geographic the remains were "egg-shell thin". Fox News gets more scientific, explaining they're "a primitive group of proboscideans ('elephantoids') from which modern elephants evolved". "They are actually very, very fragile".

"This is really very unusual to find", Houde said, adding that while he frequently received calls and emails about potential fossilized finds, this one was entirely different.

Spencer Lucas, a curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, told National Geographic that there are more fossils in New Mexico than he'll ever be able to count. The bones young Sparks had found are likely only the second complete stegomastodon skull found in the state.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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