Boy Literally Stumbles Upon Rare Fossil of Prehistoric Animal

A 9-Year-Old Tripped, Fell and Discovered a Million-Year-Old Fossil

Boy trips over 1 million-year-old fossil, making rare discovery

Jude Sparks and his family were exploring the Las Cruces desert back in November when he tripped on a protruding substance that was jutting out from the rock.

Jude said he and his brothers were checking their hand-held radios when he tripped on something.

After its unearthing, the New Mexico State University team of 10-12 people coated the fossil in plaster and put the skull in wood brackets to help support the prehistoric structure.

"I immediately recognised the importance of what it was", Houde told the news station.

A ten-year-old boy has accidentally unearthed a dinosaur skull that has been buried in the desert for over one million years.

The family sent an email to a biology professor at nearby New Mexico State University, Peter Houde. The recent discoveries are late-comers that were not ancestral to anything.

"For the several types of elephants that we have in the area, this is probably one of the more common of them", Houde said. It took months for Houde to get permission from the landowner to dig out the fossils and prepare the chemicals needed for the digging process.

"They simply break into small bits as they weather out of the sediment before they are found".

The scientists are working on preserving the fossil and studying it in the hopes that soon it would be displayed at the New Mexico State University's Vertebrate Museum where the public can view it. The exposure through the dirt did a little damage to a tusk, but nothing that can't fix.

Their research didn't turn up a clear answer, so they turned to Houde, who identified it as part of a stegomastodon skull.

Kyle said there was quite a bit of logistical coordination involved. "We have the unique opportunity to really compare what the animal looks like a much larger complete scale and compare it with others", said Professor Peter Houde. He said he and Houde chose to cover the specimen with dirt until approval could be obtained. "I'm waiting for our geologists to return from summer field schools to look into it". "They are actually very, very fragile".

But for one little boy, he has a summer memory that will last a lifetime.

"[Excavation] has to be done carefully by somebody who knows how to go about doing it", said Houde in the NMSU release.

"I'm not really an expert, but I know a lot about it, I guess", he said, explaining that he had learned about the yearslong process by which fossils are sometimes preserved or strengthened.

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