23-07-2017 07:30 AM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
A boy trips on an Ice Age fossil
A ten-year-old boy who was hiking with his parents on the desert outskirts of his neighborhood in Las Cruces, New Mexico chanced upon a very rare fossil from the Pleistocene era.
Jude Sparks said that he tripped and fell on the 1.2-million-year-old skull of a stegomastodon -- a massive prehistoric creature with tusks like an elephant.
Sparks said that when he fell, his face landed next to the bottom jaw and when he looked further up, he saw another tusk. Currently, the fossil has been placed in the New Mexico State University’s Vertebrate Museum where researchers are studying it.
The stegomastodon is believed to be an ancestor to modern-day elephants. It is one of three species of proboscideans that roamed the ancient Rio Grande Valley and is believed to be an ancestor to modern-day elephants.
Spark’s family contacted biologist Peter Houde who after obtaining permission from the property owner began the excavation along with his students.
It took one week to excavate the skull as, according to Houde, the large skull is very delicate and was held together by the sediments around it.
The team was able to carefully dig the skull out of the ground by applying chemical hardeners to the fossil, mimicking the bone strength provided by protein, to keep it intact.
Houde said that the process to reconstruct the skull, jaw and tusks may take years to complete.
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