This 10-year-old boy is being credited with the discovery of a rare fossil buried deep in the New Mexican desert.
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. When Sparks fell to the ground, he came face to face with a strange looking jaw bone and tusk.
Houde was shocked to find that the boy had unearthed a 1.2 million-year-old stegomastodon skull.
“A stegomastodon would look to any of us like an elephant,” said Houde in a statement. “For the several types of elephants that we have in the area, this is probably one of the more common of them. But they’re still very rare. This may be only the second complete skull found in New Mexico.”
The family was then invited by the university to help dig up the fossil in May. While it took a lot of careful, delicate precision, the 120-pound skull was finally unearthed and brought to the school a week later.
Researchers and specialists are praising the Sparks family for their honesty and communication upon finding the fossil.
“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. “To be quite honest, all these fossils from this area are radioactive and especially for children, not something you would want in your home.”
“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.”
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Reprint (Photo by Peter Houde)